Michael Kim will start his 25th birthday on Saturday holding a four-stroke lead with one hole remaining in round two of the rain-delayed John Deere Classic.
Kim, from Alameda and Cal, played 17 holes in a bogey-free 8-under-par before darkness came when he was 17 feet from the hole but off the green at the 18th hole in steamy Silvis, Ill.
“You know, I’ve been really comfortable on this course the last couple years,” said Kim, who won 11 times in two seasons at Cal but is winless as a professional. “If you look at kind of the guys that have done well here going back, guys like Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, you know, guys that don’t necessarily bomb the ball, but with good wedge game and putting they can do good out here.
“I was trying to not focus too much on the score. Just take it one shot at time, and I think I did a good job of that. The last couple weeks it’s felt pretty close. You know, I just felt like if I could get the putter going and get some good momentum I could shoot some good scores.
“The putter has been really hot (for two days), hitting my irons great, driving it pretty good. So just kind of coming together at a great time this week.”
Kim, who won the 2013 Nicklaus and Haskins awards as a sophomore at Cal, shot 8-under-par 63 in the first round and is at 16-under 122 for 35 holes.
David Hearn of Canada birdied four of the last seven holes in a 64 and is tied for second with Johnson Wagner, who had a 66, and first-round leader Steve Wheatcroft, who followed his career-best 62 with a 68.
Francesco Molinari of Italy, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the Quicken Loans National two weeks ago, carded a 66 with three birdies down the stretch and is five shots back in a tie for fifth with Matt Jones of Australia, who put up a 63 that included a 27-foot eagle putt on the second hole, and Bronson Burgoon, who eagled the 10th and 17th holes and was 8-under for round two after 15 holes following an opening 68.
Robert Garrigus recorded a bogey-free 64 and is six behind in a tie for eighth with Harold Varner III, who had a flawless 65, and Sam Ryder and Parker McLachlin of UCLA, who both shot 66.
For complete results, https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.