Daniel Im (Getty Images)
Daniel Im’s first season in European golf has not just been a learning experience for his game but also a life experience, and after a strong start to his Challenge Tour career, the American is focused on making the step up to the big time.
Im stepped foot on European soil for the first time at the Qualifying School First Stage in Bogogno last year, subsequently progressing through the first two stages before clinching a Challenge Tour card by making the cut at the Final Stage in Spain.
And the 27 year old did not take long to announce his arrival on the Challenge Tour, finishing in fourth place at the season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge in India.
The former Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year is certainly a man for strong first impressions, and he has just been enjoying the new lease of life his debut season in Europe has provided.
“I had been in Canada since 2008, but I had always looked into the European Tour Q-School and it just didn’t work into my schedule,” said Im, who was born in New Jersey before moving to Seoul in Korea aged three and then moving back to the USA ten years later.
“I thought I would give it a try last year. I had never been to Europe before so the First Stage near Milan was my first time, and I loved it.
“Italy was so different from the States and Canada and Asia. It was awesome. Everything in LA, where I live, is modern and flashy whereas everything in Italy was old-fashioned and people dressed really nicely.
“Then I went to Spain for the Second Stage, and after making it through I went to Barcelona with my brother, who caddied for me, and we hung out there for about a week and then we went on to the Final Stage.
“It was a bit of a life adventure as well, we were driving everywhere and it was kind of like a holiday, so it was cool.”
While it was a seven over par final round at the Qualifying School which deprived him of a European Tour card, Im is now relishing the task of gaining his card through the Challenge Tour.
“I took the Qualifying School as another learning experience and regrouped and got some positive feedback from my friends and family and coach,” he said.
“I’m excited to play the Challenge Tour this year, seeing new places and travelling Europe and seeing what happens. I started really well in India, but in Kenya (the Barclays Kenya Open) I was a little impatient with the golf course.
“I obviously want to make my way to The European Tour this year and get some World Ranking points and play with the best players in the world at the same time.
“Obviously my goal is to make the top 15 in the Challenge Tour Rankings, but at the moment I’m just looking at playing solid golf for this whole year – that’s my only focus right now.”