Tuesday, 18 June 2024

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP | Golf: Korea's Kim flies to second place with superb 65 at Fortinet Championship

IANS | Updated on Friday, September 15, 2023 14:20 PM IST
Golf: Korea's Kim flies to second place with superb 65 at Fortinet Championship

CALIFORNIA: South Korea's S.H. Kim holed out for a stunning eagle and made five birdies for a 7-under 65 at the Fortinet Championship as compatriots Sung Kang and Sangmoon Bae also enjoyed fast starts.

The 24-year-old Kim took full advantage of some wonderful ball-striking at Silverado Resort here in Napa to end the day in solo second on Thursday, with the highlight being a wedge approach shot from 106 yards that found the cup at the par-4 14th hole. He trails Lucas Herbert of Australia, who stormed to an opening 63.

Like Kim, Kang and Bae, who are both winners on the PGA TOUR, enjoyed bogey-free outings as they carded rounds of 66/T3 and 67/T9 respectively in the first event of the re-imagined PGA TOUR Fall Schedule. Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira also carded a 67.

The tenacious Kim continued to show his growing potential, although he admitted being disappointed to miss the FedExCup Playoffs after concluding the Regular Season in 83rd position following eight top-25 finishes.

Three of his five birdies came from inside of 14 feet and his putter lit up on the ninth and 17th greens when he rolled in putts of 21 and 37 feet respectively.

Bae, whose two wins on TOUR include a victory here in 2014 Fortinet Championship, showed glimpses of his best form with five birdies on the card – all from inside of 10 feet – as he ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Putting. The 37-year-old has been relatively quiet with his form following a career best year in 2015 where he made it to the TOUR Championship and featured in the Presidents Cup in Korea.

Kang, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2019, produced six birdies to give himself a shot at enhancing his PGA TOUR playing rights for 2024. Currently ranked 193rd from 15 starts through his past champion category, the 36-year-old needs to work his way into the Top-125 at the end of the Fall schedule in November.

The FedExCup Fall is made up of seven events that will crown PGA TOUR champions and finalize the top-125 and additional playing opportunities for the 2024 Season, which begins in January as the TOUR returns to a calendar-year schedule for the first time since 2012.

Nos. 1-50 in the FedExCup standings through the TOUR Championship are locked in their positions, while Nos. 51 and beyond carry their FedExCup points over and accumulate through The RSM Classic.

The winner of the Fortinet Championship will receive the same benefits of winners of Full-Field events during the Regular Season, including 500 FedExCup Points, Official World Golf Ranking points, a two-year PGA TOUR exemption (exempt thru 2025) and invitations to The Sentry, THE PLAYERS Championship, Masters Tournament and PGA Championship.

The purse for the Fortinet Championship is US$8.4 million with the winner earning US$1,512,000.