Daniel Im proposed to his fiancée during the week of a Challenge Tour event last October, and now the American is ready to make the step up both on and off the course in 2016 when he embarks on a rookie season on The European Tour.
Having swapped the glamour of Los Angeles for the nomadic travelling lifestyle in Europe back in 2013, opting to battle his way to the highest echelons of the game via the continent’s top developmental tour, the 30 year old has finally made his breakthrough, and he will look to start the new year in style when he tees up at this week’s BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni.
Love was in the air for Im last year and he won his maiden title on European soil at the Swiss Challenge (see highlights below) with his then-girlfriend Sadie on the bag, crediting her afterwards for urging him on to victory.
“She’s always reminding me to stay positive,” he said afterwards. “It was funny – at the 11th hole I was standing on the tee box and she just said, ‘you’re not weak, you’re strong, do your thing!’”
The Californian duly proposed to her at the Spanish Steps in Rome during the EMC Challenge Open, and that certainly put a pep in his step as he headed to the Qualifying School Final Stage for a successful drink in the last chance saloon to earn promotion to the top tier.
Sharing victory with two other players, following a gruelling six days at European Tour Destination PGA Catalunya Resort, to earn a place on The 2016 Race to Dubai proved a fitting end to a wholly successful year for Im.
“It was definitely the cherry on top to get my card,” he said. “I’m very happy with how I finished the year – I was disappointed with how I played in Oman (at the Challenge Tour Grand Final) - but to go to Q-School and do what I had to do, it was fantastic.
“These days I’ve been really busy planning our wedding, which is in February, so that’s been everything lately. Even the night before the final round at Q-School we were talking about flowers and food and all that stuff.”
The New Jersey-born player, who spent ten years living in Seoul as a child, is now hoping to hit the ground running in his maiden campaign as a full European Tour Member, as he prepares for the biggest day of his life away from his golfing career.
And, while he may be a late bloomer at the highest levels of the game, Im will no doubt be confident that he can now go on to bigger and better things, especially if he can display the kind of staying power of the man who introduced him to the game – his grandfather.
“He still shoots his age, which is under 90!” said Im. “He just loves his golf so he thought it would be good for me to start. He didn’t push me that much but he did get me into the game.”The European Tour rookie himself will not be shooting his own age any time soon, but having already earned a rookie award early in his career on the Canadian Tour in 2008 – winning twice in his first season – he could be a man to watch as the 2016 season kicks into gear.