Korea’s Si Woo Kim became an escape artiste on Friday by scrambling his way to a 5-under 66 to stay in the title hunt at the AT&T Byron Nelson as hometown hero Scottie Scheffler took charge of the US$9.5 million PGA TOUR tournament.
Kim, a four-time TOUR winner, made six birdies at TPC Craig Ranch in Dallas, which is his U.S. home base, for a share of fourth place on 11-under 131 to lie three behind Scheffler. The American World No. 2 grabbed the second round lead following a 64, with Ryan Palmer (65) and Mackenzie Hughes (64) trailing by one entering the weekend.
Asia’s presence on the leaderboard was enhanced through the fine displays by Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, who moved into tied sixth on 9-under following a 66, and Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama who carded a 67. China’s Marty Zecheng Dou also sits on 9-under after adding a 70 to his opening 63 while first round leader S.Y. Noh of Korea dropped to T14 following a disappointing 73.
“I feel like I've had two good rounds, so it will help me feel a little comfortable over the weekend,” said Kim, who triumphed in the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and presently sits in 18th place on the FedExCup standings.
“I also feel like I have some things to work on, so if I can keep my focus on my game, I think I can play as well as I did in the last two days,”
Kim, 27, will be eager to tighten his approach iron play as he missed nine greens in regulation but saved par on each occasion through a combination of deft touches and a reliable putter where he took only 22 putts during the round.
“Even though I missed a few greens, I made some good putts. I made some good saves, so I think that's what got me through to the end,” said Kim. “This golf course has a lot of birdie chances. The guys play aggressively here so if you make a bogey, you have to make up with more birdies to compete. I think I have to play with that in mind.”
Scheffler will return to World No. 1 with a third PGA TOUR victory of the season on Sunday and he put himself in pole position following a stellar round which featured eight birdies against a lone bogey. The last thing on his mind though is getting ahead of himself.
“I want to win a lot of tournaments. This one being in the hometown, it would definitely be a lot of fun with the crowd behind me this weekend. But that's not stuff that occupies too many of my thoughts. I don't want to place too many emphasis on one tournament. I just want to go out and do my best and see where that puts me,” said the 26-year-old Scheffler, who won the WM Phoenix Open and THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this year.
Korea’s Byeong Hun An, Sangmoon Bae and Sung Kang are amongst those sharing 14th place alongside Noh on 8-under while Tom Kim carded a 66 for T48. Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee made the cut right on the number on 4-under after a 68.