‘An absolute nightmare’: Pro shanks one, his next shot strikes a tree, then he’s hit into 

Sungjae Im on Thursday after his second shot on the 15th hole at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

Golf Channel

Two strokes taken. Two trees (or more) hit. One shank hit. One ball that was hit into him, caused him to duck and slid backward down the cart path behind him.  

If you’re holding a bizarro-golf-hole bingo card, Sungjae Im may have filled it up for you. Congrats. 

“This is unbelievable to watch right now,” announcer Shane Bacon said on the Golf Channel broadcast. 

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Indeed. Though you can imagine what Im himself was seeing, though the usually stoic Korean did not break character. In the end, he double-bogeyed the 425-yard, par-4 15th at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. But the journey was some trip during Thursday’s Zozo Championship first round. Consider:

Im’s tee shot. Right. Playing partner and friend Tom Kim almost immediately raised his arm in that direction. The ball settled about a foot above the lip of a fairway bunker. 

Im’s second shot. More right. With his left foot in the grass above the sand, and his right foot in the bunker, Im rocketed one far from both the fairway and the face of the club. He looked down at the ground. He looked at his caddie. On his way to his ball, which had settled about 20 yards ahead after hitting a tree, he looked at his clubface. He had shanked. He had hosel-rocketed. 

“You hate to see it. You hate to see it,” announcer Tom Abbott said on the Golf Channel broadcast. 

“Well, these lies, the hosel is obviously coming in here and you try to lean on it a little bit to make sure you make clean contact, and yeah, that’s just a cold shank,” analyst Sam Saunders said. “Tough spot. It happens. Never feels good.” 

“He was probably fortunate that it hit the tree and came straight down,” Abbott said. “It could have gone …” 

“I say so,” Saunders said.  

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Im’s third shot. Backward. From the trees, Im hit one. He lowered his head and turned around. His ball was now just about back where it began.    

“Oh my word,” Abbott said on the broadcast. 

“I apologize for chuckling there,” analyst Craig Perks said. “It’s just a comedy of errors.”

“He’s back to where he started,” Abbott said. 

“Well, at least it didn’t go back in the bunker,” Perks said.  

“He’s having an absolute nightmare,” Abbott said. 

Im’s fourth shot. One ball forward. Then Im’s. As he was looking at his yardage book, there was a shout. Im ducked. He moved to his right. They were hitting from the tee box. The ball eventually settled on the cart path about 10 yards behind him and to his right. 

“This is unbelievable to watch right now,” Bacon said on the broadcast.

“Was that from the tee at 15?” Abbott said.  

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“It was,” Bacon said.  

“Goodness me,” Abbott said.   

“He’s hit a shank, he’s hit a tree and he almost got hit. He’s not even on the green yet,” Bacon said.

Then he was. From there, Im hit on, to about 20 feet away. 

“Golf balls raining down on him,” Abbott said on the broadcast. “He could get away with a bogey.” 

“It would be amazing,” Saunders said. 

“He does have tremendous composure,” Perks said. “He’ll certainly need it here.” 

“Glad it’s not happening to Tyrrell Hatton,” Abbott said in a nod to the sometimes fiery Englishman.  

On the green, Im two-putted for a double-bogey six, and he eventually signed for a one-over 71. He’ll start Friday’s second round seven shots out of the lead.   

“Well, it was eventful, that’s for sure,” Abbott said on the broadcast. “It’s a six in the end for Sungjae Im. A hole to forget for him. It’ll be a good laugh, though, I’m sure, over dinner when he’s chatting with Tom Kim at the hotel. They’ll be giving him a hard time.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.