Rising South Korean star Kim Joo-hyung was all smiles again on Friday after firing a six-under par 64 to share the early second-round lead in the US PGA Tour Wyndham Championship.
Kim, who had battled back after opening Thursday with a quadruple bogey eight to shoot a 67, had a nine-under par total of 131 to share the lead with Americans Brandon Wu and Ryan Moore when thunderstorms halted play at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“If you would have told me after the first hole yesterday where I’d be after two days, I definitely would have taken it, so pretty happy,” said Kim, who admitted he felt a mild flashback at the first hole — his 10th of the day — where he again found himself in the bunker.
“I was like, well, here we go, just don’t make a quad,” he said. “I was like, let’s just get this on the fairway.
“And I did. I hit a great shot to two feet,” said Kim, adding he told himself: “You know what, this is strokes gained right here — four shots better than yesterday.
“So most improved on hole No. 1.”
The 20-year-old’s star has been rising fast. A two-time winner on the Asian Tour, he finished tied for third at the Scottish Open in July, an event co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and US PGA Tour.
Given special temporary membership on the US tour last month for the remainder of the season, he secured his card for next year with a seventh-place finish in Detroit last week.
“Last month before the Scottish I was like I guess just Korn Ferry Finals for me,” he said. “One month later I secured my PGA Tour card without even going to Korn Ferry Finals.”
On Friday, Kim again had an early wobble with a bogey at the 12th, but had seven birdies the rest of the way, starting with a 14-footer at 13.
He drained a 19-foot birdie at the second then birdied three in a row at six, seven and eight — the highlight of the trio a 30-footer at the seventh.
A disappointing birdie miss from within five feet at his final hole was just a blip.
“It would have been great,” Kim said. “But I still hit a great putt — just didn’t go in.”
Wu, 25, is also seeking a first US PGA Tour title. He had four birdies and a bogey in his three-under par 67.
Moore, a five-time winner, had five birdies and a bogey in his 66.
First-round leader John Huh was in a group one shot back after carding a one-over par 71 — 10 shots worse than his 61 of Thursday.
“I think that’s golf,” said Huh, who was tied with fellow American Russell Henley (65) on 132.
India’s Anirban Lahiri and American Brian Stuard were in the clubhouse on seven-under when play was suspended. South Korean Im Sung-jae was seven-under with two to play.