Smith, Im good enough to win most Masters, but not this one

Cameron Smith reacts after missing a birdie attempt on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters Tournament Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at Augusta National. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Cameron Smith reacts after missing a birdie attempt on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters Tournament Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at Augusta National. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@

AUGUSTA — Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im will go down in history as finishing second at the 84th Masters.

No need to mention they were five strokes behind the record-setting score of Dustin Johnson.

Smith and Im started the day tied for second, four strokes behind Johnson. They both finished with final rounds of 3 under par 69. Their tournament totals of 15 under par, while special, left them well off the winning pace. Their final scores would have been good enough to win all but seven of the previous 83 Masters.

ExplorePhotos: Final round 2020 Masters Tournament

Im, making his Masters debut, got within a shot of Johnson early in Sunday’s fourth round. After Johnson had back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 4 and 5, he was 15 under. Im, playing in the same group, was 14 under at the same point, aided by birdies at Nos. 2 and 3. However, Johnson birded and Im bogeyed the par-3 No. 6. Suddenly a one-stroke deficit was up to a three-stroke deficit.

He would get no closer.

Im was hurt by back-to-back bogeys of his own at Nos. 6 and 7. He finished the day with five birdies. He wasn’t able to make up any ground with only birdies at the par-5s on the back nine as Johnson did the same.

“This is definitely going to be a memorable Masters for me, not only because this is my first appearance, but my initial goal at the start of the week was just to make a cut and get into the weekend,” Im said. “So to finish tied for second is unbelievable.”

Sungjae Im hits on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters Tournament Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at Augusta National. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Sungjae Im hits on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters Tournament Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at Augusta National. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Smith never got closer than two strokes of Johnson, the last time after 10 holes. Johnson put the pedal down with three straight birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15.

He would get no closer.

Smith became the first player in Masters history to post four rounds in the 60s — going 67, 68, 69 and 69. Still, he wasn’t close to winning. Johnson nearly did the same but for a 70 in the second round.

“That’s really cool,” Smith said. “I had no idea starting today that I needed to do that. Yeah, that’s really cool.”

Smith was in scramble mode much of the day — and still managed birdies. On No. 7, he hit well right of the fairway, found an opening to hit the green and made a 10-foot birdie putt. On No. 9, he again found the pinestraw to the right of the fairway, hit a 9-iron that hit the side of the green and rolled to four feet for another birdie. On No. 15, he tried to go for the par-5 in two and his second shot finished left of the Sarazen Bridge that crosses the pond. He still hit the green and made an 11-footer for birdie.

“It was pretty solid,” Smith said of his day and week. “I wouldn’t say I brought my best stuff, especially the longer stuff, I felt as though I struggled with the driver a lot this week. Obviously, my scrambling, my chipping and putting was unreal this week, probably the best it’s ever been.”

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