Masters 2022: Sungjae Im, inspired by father’s ‘pro shot’ at Par 3 Contest, grabs first-round lead

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The top of the Masters leaderboard after the opening round of the 86th Masters looks a lot like the final results from 2020. Only this time, South Korea’s Sungjae Im is on top of Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson after shooting a 5-under 67 at Augusta National Golf Club.

Im, 24, who finished tied for second two years ago with Smith and behind only Johnson, the champion, birdied the first three holes on Thursday en route to becoming the first South Korean golfer to lead at the Masters.

A day earlier, Im’s father, Ji Taek Im, caddied for him at the Par 3 Contest. At the ninth hole, Im’s father gripped a club to swing and his son started laughing uncontrollably as pros Billy Horschel, Sam Burns, and Scottie Scheffler looked on.

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“They were just having fun and having a crack at my dad, and it got me, too, so I was laughing,” Im explained. “But once he hit the shot, it was the most beautiful shot I’ve seen. It was like a professional shot. It was definitely a fun day and a memorable one.”

With those good vibes, Im went out and made five birdies and an eagle at No. 13 to vault past Australia’s Cameron Smith, who sandwiched eight birdies around a pair of double bogeys, to post 68. Johnson was among a foursome to shoot 69.

“I did look at the leaderboard,” Im said, “and it’s pretty cool to see that we’re all up there together.”