Im may be first Asian to win Arnold Palmer Award

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Im may be first Asian to win Arnold Palmer Award

Korean Im Sung-jae has been nominated for the top rookie prize on the PGA Tour.


Im Sung-jae

The tour announced five nominees for the Arnold Palmer Award as the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year on Thursday. Im will be up against Cameron Champ, Adam Long, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, all of them Americans.

Peer voting will determine the winner, and PGA Tour members who played in at least 15 FedEx Cup events during the 2018-19 season are eligible to vote through 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sept. 6.

The top rookie award was first presented in 1990, and Im will look to become the first Asian-born player to be honored as such. In 2012, Korean-American John Huh earned the best rookie honors, but he was born in New York.

Im was the only rookie to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship last week, open only to the top 30 players in FedEx Cup points, and he finished tied for 19th in the final FedEx Cup standings.

History is on Im’s side. In the FedEx Cup era that began in 2007, no one has been named the Rookie of the Year without having the most points. Every time there was only one freshman at the Tour Championship, that player was voted the best rookie.

On the other hand, Im is the only one of the five nominees without a victory. He entered a tour-best 35 tournaments and posted seven top 10s. In an illustration of Im’s consistency, those seven top-10 finishes came in five different months - October, February, March, June and August.

Morikawa played in nine tournaments and won once, while Wolff entered eight events and notched one victory. Long and Champ played 27 and 26 events, respectively, and won one title each. All four finished outside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings.

Im was also the Rookie of the Year on the developmental Tour (currently called Korn Ferry Tour) last year. He could join Stewart Cink as the only players to be named the best rookie on both tours in consecutive years.

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