Sungjae Im of South Korea, who claimed his only PGA Tour victory in the 2020 Honda Classic and has been close several times since, is looking for No. 2 this week.
The 23-year-old Im (pictured) sank a two-foot birdie putt while finishing on the ninth hole to cap a bogey-free, 6-under-par 65 and is tied for the lead with rookie Chad Ramey midway through the Shriners for Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
“There’s two days left to play, so I like to try to keep focused on my game and try to take it one shot at a time,” said Im, who won twice on the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour and also captured the 2019 Genesis Championship in Korea.
“It’s going to be difficult if it’s windy. I have to be more strategic to the course management.”
Ramey holed a 13-foot birdie putt at No. 18 and birdied three of the last four holes to also finish with a 65.
Said Ramey, whose only pro victory came in the 2020 Live and Work in Maine Open on the Korn Ferry Tour: “The first tournament of the year I didn’t drive it very good and didn’t putt it very good. So, the last few weeks I’ve kind of been hitting those points pretty hard, and I’ve kind of feel like I got it back under myself a little better right now. I hit it really well off the tee and I’m making putts. You can’t ask for much more.”
Im, who finished in the top 10 five times and the top 25 on 16 occasions last season, carded three birdies on each nine and finished 36 holes at 14-under 128 and was caught late in the day by Ramey.
Sam Burns, who won the Sanderson Farms Championship for his second PGA Tour victory last week, kept right on going with a bogey-free 63 with five birdies on the front nine and three on the back, and is one stroke back in a tie for third with Adam Shenk, who had seven birdies and a bogey in a 65.
“Last week’s last week,” said Burns, who also won the Valspar Championship earlier this year. “This week is the Shriners and preparing for this week, trying to make sure Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, that we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to play well this week.
“That’s been the biggest thing, is just trying to move on from last week. Obviously, I’m incredibly honored that I won last week and had such a fun time, but just trying to kind of leave that there, come here, and just preparing the best that I can.
“I feel comfortable. At the end of the day it’s golf. It’s not anything crazy. So I just try to keep it as simple as I can. I think for me, just coming out here and enjoying myself, having fun, that’s what we’re supposed to do out here, right? So I’m just trying to do that.”
Aaron Wise of Lake Elsinore collected nine birdies in a bogey-free 62 and is two shots behind in solo back in solo fifth, while Andrew Putman of Pepperdine sank a 16-foot eagle putt at No. 9 and made three late birdies in a 64 and is one more down in a tie for sixth with Adam Hadwin of Canada, who holed an 11-foot eagle putt at No. 16 in another 64, Matt Jones of Australia (67), Matthew Wolf of Agoura Hills (67), who holed a nine-foot eagle putt at No. 16, Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia (66), Harry Hall of England (65) and Talor Gooch (67).
Eighth-ranked Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa is tied for 13th after a 67, ninth-ranked Brooks Koepka also shot 67 and is in a tie for 30th that includes defending champion Martin Laird of Scotland, who had a 68, while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan is tied for 57th following a 72.
Will Zalatoris, 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year wound up at 68-72—140 and missed the cut by three strokes.
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