Korea’s K.H. Lee literally dreams about winning on the PGA TOUR very often. Back-to-back 7-under 65s for his career-low 36-hole score may well see him realise that dream at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
The 29-year-old Lee put together a seven-birdie round at TPC Craig Ranch on Friday which was so good that his birdies were all from inside of 12 feet. He enters the weekend in third place and three behind in-form American Sam Burns who carded a career best 62 to lead on 127 from second-placed Alex Noren.
Although the winds picked up during the second round, it was almost stress-free golf for Lee who hit 11 fairways and 14 greens in regulation. He even conducted his post-round interview in English, which isn’t a regular occurrence with him.
“Yeah, today’s round is more difficult than yesterday, so I’m very happy. Putting condition was good,” said Lee. “I think my strengths are like my iron play, so sometimes my iron play is good but putting is bad. This week iron play good and putting is also good. So nice two rounds.”
Lee is enjoying his third season on TOUR where he currently ranks 84th on the FedExCup rankings, thanks largely to a tied second place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open where he contended for a first win in America.
He has previously said he envisions himself hoisting a trophy on the PGA TOUR very often. “Almost every night I dream of this,” he said. “It would be amazing.”
Starting from the 10th, Lee’s seven birdies were from close range although he needed to make a 15-footer on 16 to save par which was important to keep him on Burns’ coattail. Burns won the Valspar Championship for his first TOUR victory two weeks ago and is bogey-free through 36 holes this week.
Lee intends to keep his foot on the pedal on a low scoring week which the halfway cut was set at 6-under, the lowest in the tournament’s history. “Lot of good irons and chipping also, so good momentum,” said Lee. “Pretty fun (so far). I think I try (to) keep positive. Couple weeks I play sometimes too bad, easy to get negative, but I will try keep positive, keep momentum, and enjoy my golf.”
The Korean is pushing hard to become only the fourth Asian winner at the AT&T Byron Nelson, with Shigeki Maruyama (2002), Sangmoon Bae (2013) and Sung Kang (2019) winning the tournament previously. Sung, the defending champion this week as the tournament was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, carded a second round 69 to lie T27 alongside countryman Si Woo Kim (70).
Masters Tournament winner Hideki Matsuyama, playing in his first tournament in a month, carded a 70 to make the weekend play right on the number.
Burns, 24, birdied six of his last eight holes during the second round for a 10-under to lead by two from Europe’s Ryder Cup star, Noren.
“The biggest thing for me is just seeing the hard work that we put in it, start seeing results from that. A lot of times you don’t know how long the results are going to take. It’s cool to see some feedback from the progress we’ve made back home and seeing it in tournament play as well,” said Burns.
Second-Round Notes – Friday, May 14, 2021
Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 78. Wind SE 7-14 mph, gusting to 18 mph.
36-hole cut: 72 professionals at 6-under 138 from a field of 154 professionals and two amateurs.
Sam Burns 65-62—127 (-17)
Alex Noren 65-64—129 (-15)
K.H. Lee 65-65—130 (-14)
Doc Redman 64-67—131 (-13)
J.J. Spaun 63-69—132 (-12)