Korean rookie S.H Kim ended a frustrating run of three missed cuts in a row when he fired a bogey-free 7-under 64 at the 3M Open on Friday to give himself a fighting chance of qualifying for the lucrative FedExCup Playoffs.
In need of a strong finish to break into the top-70 which is the cut-off for the Playoffs, Kim rebounded from an opening 71 by sinking seven birdies at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota to rise to tied 14th place on 7-under 135.
American Lee Hodges continues to set a scorching pace in the PGA TOUR’s penultimate event of the Regular Season after adding a 64 to his first round 63 to lead by four strokes on 15-under. Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama battled to a 70, which included a bogey on his last, for T10 on 8-under.
Starting the day from the 10th tee, Kim’s round was carried by his excellent putting, resulting in birdies on six of his opening nine holes, including five consecutive gains from Hole Nos. 11 to 15 – the first time he has recorded five consecutive birdies on TOUR. He needed only 24 putts, gaining 4.93 strokes over the field to be ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Putting for the day.
“I had a very good start. I didn’t miss any putts which set the tone for the day. I managed to stay bogey-free which is always a pleasant accomplishment,” said Kim, who is currently ranked 82nd in the season-long FedExCup points standings.
As things stands, Kim is projected to move up to No. 74, with next week’s Wyndham Championship being the final Regular Season event. He is determined to play his way into the top-70 to sweeten a rookie season which already includes one top-10 and seven other top-25s.
“We still have two tournaments left, and I’m going to give my utmost effort,” said Kim. “I haven’t been playing well lately, so I’m really glad to have finished well today, and I’m looking forward to the remaining rounds.”
Also making the cut were Kevin Yu of Chinese Taipei, who stands at 6-under following a 66 while compatriot C.T. Pan and Japan’s Kaito Onishi, who shot 70 and 67 respectively, finished the day on 4-under, which is the cut line. Korea’s S.Y. Noh, a one-time TOUR winner, faces a three-foot par putt on his last hole on Saturday morning to make the weekend rounds on the number after play was suspended due to darkness.
Overnight leader Hodges maintained his pursuit for a maiden PGA TOUR victory with another impressive 64 to establish a four-shot lead over second-placed Tyler Duncan. Hodges was bogey-free again as he made seven birdies.
“Same thing as yesterday. I’ve got a great attitude out there. Me and my caddie, we’re 70-something on the points list, like what do we have to lose, you know?” he said. “We’ve committed to every shot we’ve hit so far, which has been great. We’ll continue to do it, because what do we have to lose.”
Defending champion Tony Finau (66) is amongst those bunched in a share of third place on 10-under while former FedExCup champion Justin Thomas missed the halfway cut after a 71 which included two double bogeys that put a dent on his hopes to make the Playoffs with one event remaining.
|Lee Hodges||63-64—127 (-15)|
|Tyler Duncan||64-67—131 (-11)|
|Kevin Streelman||64-68—132 (-10)|
|J.T. Poston||66-66—132 (-10)|
|Tony Finau||66-66—132 (-10)|
|Brandt Snedeker||64-68—132 (-10)|