Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of March 2.
The noted low-handicapper Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once observed that “the mode by which the inevitable comes to pass is effort.”
Surely, Holmes had in mind Sungjae Im, or would have had the Supreme Court justice lived another century or so. A PGA Tour victory was inevitable for Im, for whom effort is his calling card.
A 21-year-old South Korean, Im is the PGA Tour’s ironman, one who played 35 events last season and 12 more already this season with a good deal of success that suggested victory was imminent.
So it came to pass that in his 13th start of the 2019-’20 wraparound season, Im won the Honda Classic at PGA National on Sunday, two birdies on his final four holes giving him a one-stroke victory over Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes.
Im’s maiden PGA Tour win moved him to 25th in the World Ranking in an ascent that has been linear.
The English delegate falters
The British trio of Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald represented the Union Jack well on Sunday, but not well enough to bring home a victory.
Fleetwood, the 54-hole leader of the Honda Classic, shot a one-over-par 71 and finished third. Westwood, 46 and a former World No. 1 in the midst of a resurgence that saw him win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, tied for fourth. And Donald, also a former World No. 1, played two over-par rounds on the weekend and tied for 11th.
Tiger’s Masters prep
At this point of Tiger Woods’ long and glorious career, it virtually is all about major championships and prepping for them … that and achieving a PGA Tour-record breaking 83rd victory.
So what does it say when on Friday it was revealed that he had not entered this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times?
Not much. Yet.
The fact that his agent Mark Steinberg cited back stiffness for Woods passing on playing at Bay Hill is a concern, of course, given Woods’ history, including a spinal fusion.
Throughout his career he has talked about being “tournament tough” heading into majors. Barring another setback, it seems likely that he will play in the Players Championship the week after the Arnold Palmer, take a week off, then play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks before the Masters.
Whether that is sufficient to go into Augusta tournament tough remains to be seen. But it would give him four starts in the first three months of 2020, only one fewer than he had in 2019 in the run-up to the Masters.
It should be noted, too, that Woods did not play at Bay Hill last year with neck stiffness, then played the Players and the Match Play and won the Masters.
On the downside, Woods fell out of the top 10 in the World Ranking for the first time since the Match Play last year, after which he was ranked 12th.
Europe has its own youth movement
Finland’s Sami Valimaki won the European Tour’s Oman Open on Sunday, in only his sixth tour start. Valimaki is only 21 and the fourth player 24 or younger to win on the European Tour in its first 10 tournaments.
Earlier, Min Woo Lee of Australia, 22, won the ISPS Handa Vic Open; Lucas Herbert of Australia, 24, won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic; and Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark, 18, won the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open.
Valimaki was 372nd in the World Ranking before this victory. However, he was as high as 10th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking before turning professional.
Bernhard Langer, aging or ageless?
The answer, at this point, tilts toward ageless. Bernhard Langer, 62, won the Cologuard Classic on Sunday, his 41st PGA Tour Champions victory, leaving him only four shy of equaling Hale Irwin’s senior-record 45 wins.
Langer, a World Golf Hall of Famer, shot a final-round seven-under-par 66 to come from four down to win by two.