Steve Rawlings takes his regular Monday look back at the golf last week where there were wins on both tours for 21-year-olds...
"There wasn’t too much market carnage at the Honda this year but both last week’s tournaments are ideal for trading. Both tracks are tough and we saw plenty of players trade short in Oman again."
It was only a matter of time before 21-year-old Korean phenom, Sungjae Im, got of the mark on the PGA Tour and he did it yesterday in incredible style at the Honda Classic, playing the Bear Trap (a ridiculously tough stretch of three holes at PGA National) in two-under-par!
The 2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, birdied the par three 15th, made a regulation par four at 16, having found a fairway bunker off the tee, before he did this at the ultra-tough par three 17th.
Im had trailed by three with a round to go but the four men ahead of him - Tommy Fleetwood, Brendan Steele, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, all failed to break par as PGA National bared it's teeth one last time.
Fleetwood, a pre-tournament 15.014/1 shot, who had begun the final round with a one-stroke lead, was matched at a low of 1.654/6 after he opened up with a pair of birdies but he lost his way after that, playing the next 14 holes in a birdie-free three-over-par. He gave himself a chance when he holed from 24 feet for birdie on the penultimate hole but in need of a birdie at the par five finishing hole to tie Im, he found the water with his approach shot and that was the end of that.
Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, a pre-event 1000.0 chance, finished alone in second after a second successive four-under-par 66. He gave himself a chance when he holed for birdie from 54 feet at 17 (the longest putt holed there all week) and he was matched at a low of 3.953/1 but he failed to birdie the par 18th and his five-under-par total wasn't enough.
Im, who was generally a 34.033/1 chance at the off, also shot 66 yesterday and that was the lowest anyone shot all week long. Im's six-under-par winning total was the lowest winning score since Mark Wilson in 2007 but it wasn't surprisingly low. Ernie Els in 2008 and Padraig Harrington in 2015 also won with 274 total score and Rickie Fowler (12-under-par in 2017) is the only winner in the last eight years to get to double-digits under par.
Im was courageous on the back-nine, attacking at every opportunity, but he wasn't the only 21-year-old to show no nerves yesterday. Fearless young Finn, Sami Valimaki, who was born less than four months after Im, holed this magnificent birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Oman Open to get himself into a playoff with South Africa's Brandon Stone.
Valimaki, who was matched at 1000.0 after an opening 74 saw him trail by eight, was matched at between 220.0219/1 and 250.0249/1 before the off. Playing in just his sixth start on the European Tour, having qualified via qualifying school, only turned pro a year ago but younger winners across the world isn't anything new.
Rasmus Højgaard became the first player born this century to win on the European Tour when he claimed the Mauritius Open in December and he's still not 19! Having two 21-year-olds win on the same day on the world's biggest Tours is quite something and young players taking big titles is clearly the new norm.
From 1985-2014, only 1.9% of PGA Tour winners were age 22 or younger.? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) March 1, 2020
Since the 2015 season began, that number is 6.6%. That includes 2 in the last 2 weeks (Hovland, Im).
I drew a blank at the Honda Classic but the Oman Open worked out nicely enough.
I had three pre-event picks tied for the lead with a round to go - Mikko Korhonen, backed at 95.094/1, Brandon Stone (120.0119/1), and Højgaard (230.0229/1) - and sitting alone in seventh, just one off the six-way tie, was another pre-tournament fancy, Guido Migliozzi, who I'd backed at 120.0119/1.
I can't remember holding such a strong position with pre-tournament picks going into the final round before and given I'd also backed the favourite with a round to go, Joost Luiten, at 19.5 in-running, I was confident of getting one of them over the line but it wasn't to be.
I went to Wembley to watch the Carabao Cup final yesterday so trading was never going to be easy but it all worked out well in the end. My biggest position was on Højgaard so I layed him back before the final round at 8.615/2 and again in-running at 4.67/2. I layed Mikko Korhonen before he teed off at 7.26/1, I got Migliozzi layed at 6.411/2 and I layed Stone at 2.47/5 and again at 2.111/10 as he looked the most likely winner early on - on the back-nine yesterday.
Stone was actually matched at just 1.041/25 after he'd birdied the 18th to take the lead so in hindsight, I layed him too early but I levelled the book of nicely by backing the winner at 12.5 as he played the 72nd hole so it mattered not who won the playoff and it was a decent enough week in the end.
What Have We Learned This Week?
There wasn't too much market carnage at the Honda this year but both last week's tournaments are ideal for trading. Both tracks are tough and we saw plenty of players trade short in Oman again.
Callum Shinkwin, who collapsed on the back-nine to finish tied for 25th, hit a low of 2.829/5, Adrien Saddier, who came from off the pace to lead before bogeying the 17th, was matched at 2.01/1, Luiten was matched at 4.03/1, despite never giving himself a chance on Sunday, Clement Sordet's price dipped to 4.84/1 after he started nicely yesterday and Jordan Smith was matched at just 7.06/1, even though he never really looked like winning. And all mine traded much shorter than I layed them at. In addition to Stone trading at long odds-on and losing, Korhonen hit a low of 3.65, Højgaard was matched at 4.03/1 and Migliozzi 5.04/1.
Although I drew a blank, I really enjoyed the Honda Classic and we have another Floridian treat to look forward to this week too. The PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the European Tour stops off in Qatar for the Qatar Masters. I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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