Korea’s Kim and Chinese Taipei’s Pan impress at THE NORTHERN TRUST

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Korea’s rising star Sungjae Im birdied four of his last six holes for a 3-under 68 to stay on the fringe of contention at THE NORTHERN TRUST while boosting his Presidents Cup hopes on Friday.

The 21-year-old Im has emerged as one of the season’s revelations on the PGA TOUR with  seven top-10s which saw him enter the FedExCup Playoffs in 23rdplace on the points list. He is also ranked 12th on the International Team standings for the Presidents Cup, with the top-8 earning automatic places as at August 19.

Im’s two-day score of 7-under 135 left him five shots back of second round leader Dustin Johnson in T15 with amongst others C.T. Pan, who is bidding to become the first golfer from Chinese Taipei to qualify for the Presidents Cup.

Im turned in 37 after swapping three birdies against a bogey and a triple bogey on the par 4 seventh hole. But the young talent showed his class with a late burst of birdies, makings putts of four feet, 19 feet, 11 feet and seven feet on holes 13, 15, 16 and 17.

“I didn’t hit it too good on the front nine but as the round went on, I could get my feel and play better,” said Im. “Yesterday, I made a double bogey on 17 and almost holed my second shot there. I was quite happy about it. But I dropped a triple bogey at hole seven which wasn’t good.”

Pan, 27, currently sits on the bubble in eighth position on the International Team ranking and ensured he remained very much in the frame after adding a bogey-free 67 to his opening 68.

The slightly-built Pan, who broke through for his first PGA TOUR title at the RBC Heritage in April, made birdies on holes five, six, nine and 13 to boost his hopes of getting into the Playoffs Finale, the TOUR Championship, for the first time in his career and also a debut appearance in the Presidents Cup.

“It was definitely windy and it was swirling out there. Fortunately, it rained quite a bit the past few days which have made the greens softer and you can kind of go for the pins which I’ve done quite well the last few days and given myself opportunities,” said Pan, ranked 35th on the FedExCup points list.

“It’s (Presidents Cup) definitely on my mind. All I can do is hit it one good shot at a time. I definitely want to be a part of  that.”

Asia’s interest in THE NORTHERN TRUST also sees Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama entering the third round in T20, Korea’s Byeong Hun An in T47, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand in T60 and Si Woo Kim of Korea in T66. Korea’s Sung Kang and K.H. Lee missed the halfway cut.

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