Sungjae Im shoots 65, takes lead at The American Express

Sungjae Im shoots 65, takes lead at The American Express

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Sungjae Im shot a 7-under 65 on Friday at The American Categorical to take a one-stroke lead over first-round chief Brandon Hagy and 4 others.

Im, the 22-year-old South Korean who was the PGA Tour’s rookie of the yr in 2019, had seven birdies within the bogey-free spherical on the Stadium Course at PGA West, highlighted by three in 4 holes across the flip.

Hagy was in place to hitch Im at 11 below, however he bogeyed his last gap with a tee shot into the golf green bunker to complete his 70.

Canada’s Nick Taylor (66), South Korea’s Si Woo Kim (68), Tony Finau (66) and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer (65) additionally have been 10 below. Emiliano Grillo (66), Francesco Molinari (66) and Doug Ghim (68) have been two pictures off the lead.

The leaderboard was crowded with low scores as regular on the Palm Springs-area match lengthy hosted by Bob Hope. Im, Taylor and Ancer have been amongst 12 gamers who did not make a bogey Friday.

After splitting the primary two rounds over two programs, the gamers will all play the once-feared Stadium Course for the ultimate two rounds.

Match host Phil Mickelson made 18 pars for the primary time in his 2,201 rounds of PGA Tour play. The 50-year-old missed the lower at 2 over.

Together with his drives trying sharp and his mid-range putts dropping recurrently, Im is off to a different robust begin at a match wherein he has already completed tenth and twelfth in his brief PGA Tour profession.

“I’m fairly glad with how I performed all of my pictures,” mentioned Im, who feels his placing has improved sharply this yr. “Talking of placing, I began drawing a line on the ball as I visualize my putts, and that appeared to work fairly effectively in the present day.”

Im additionally feels he may need an edge as a result of didn’t journey residence to South Korea in the course of the vacation break as a result of obligatory coronavirus quarantine required. As a substitute, he stayed in the home he lately bought in Atlanta and practiced for the brand new season.

Hagy made 10 birdies in his opening spherical, however bought off to a tough begin Friday on the Stadium Course with two early bogeys. He rallied with birdies on his sixteenth and seventeenth holes, however his errant drive on his last gap saved him one shot off the tempo.

Taylor, who additionally led the Sony Open after two rounds final week, shot a 66 with six birdies on the Stadium Course. He had three straight birdies on the again 9 of his bogey-free spherical, together with a 24-foot birdie putt on the fifteenth and an 18-footer on the island inexperienced on the seventeenth.

Taylor seems to be rounding into spectacular kind as he prepares to defend his Pebble Seashore title in three weeks.

“My sport feels actually good proper now, so hopefully it retains peaking,” he mentioned. “It was a variety of intimidating tee pictures, iron pictures into greens. I really feel like I missed in the proper locations. I drove it very nice on the par-5s and gave myself fairly simple appears on a number of of them.”

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