HONOLULU, HAWAII – JANUARY 12: Carl Yuan of China at the ninth green during the second round of Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 12, 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

China’s Carl Yuan and Korea’s Byeong Hun An have positioned themselves for a potential first PGA TOUR title after posting impressive scores of 65 and 64 respectively to claim a share of the 36-hole lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Friday.

Competing in his second season on TOUR, a tenacious Yuan sank six birdies to offset a lone bogey at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu as he reached 9-under 131 to boost his hopes of becoming the first mainland Chinese golfer to secure a PGA TOUR victory.

Yuan’s stellar showing was matched by fellow Asian An, who crafted a flawless six birdies to seize his fourth career lead/co-lead after two rounds. The Asian duo were joined at the top of the leaderboard by American Austin Eckroat, who fired a 66.

The trio are a stroke clear of a packed leaderboard, which features a 10-way tie for fourth place including last week’s The Sentry winner Chris Kirk (66), eight-time TOUR winner Stewart Cink (65) and overnight leader Cam Davis (70).

Defending champion Si Woo Kim of Korea (66) will enter the weekend rounds four off the pace while 2022 winner Hideki Matsuyama birdied his closing two holes for a 68 to make the halfway cut on 138.

The extra hours Yuan invested during the off-season seem to have done the trick in helping him kickstart his season. He was also relieved he got into the stellar field after his final 2023 FedExCup ranking was bumped up to 125th place, which is the cut off for players to retain their PGA TOUR cards.

“During the break time, I took a lot of time to practice approach shots and putting. And I have a new team member to help improve my physical fitness,” said the 26-year-old Yuan, who previously led the 2023 RBC Canadian Open through two rounds before finishing T18. “For the next two rounds, I think I need to keep my patience and be clear about where I want to put the ball on every shot.”

He is determined to make his mark after a forgettable rookie season last year which saw him miss 16 cuts in 30 starts. However, he finished the year strongly with two top-10s in the fall. “I mean, just looking forward to another year on TOUR. With all the learning experience from my rookie year definitely feel like I’m more prepared for being out here,” he said.

“Having full status is nice. No need to reshuffle. Before I learned the news, I was really trying to get myself ready and come out and play good in Hawaii and on the West Coast and try to earn myself back on TOUR. Luckily I got full status, but I’m still trying to do the same thing and come out here and play the best I can.”

As for An, 32, he will be hoping to extend his solid start to the new season after finishing solo fourth at The Sentry last Sunday as he chases a long-awaited PGA TOUR breakthrough. “I love to get a win, but so far I’ve had a decent career. I feel like I’m sure many guys have dreamed to have, and just first of all, playing the PGA TOUR is one of my dreams,” said An, holds four career runner-up finishes, the last being the Wyndham Championship last August.

“Definitely getting a win is my goal in my life. I’m starting to kind of be oldish compared to other guys but I feel like I still have a lot to improve, and I feel like I’ve been improving every year. Hopefully this year will be the year for me. I’m going to work hard and keep the pedals on.”

Playing on a sponsor’s invite, Taiga Semikawa underlined his status as an emerging star from Japan by firing a 65, moving to T14, just two shots off the pace.


Second-Round Notes – Friday, January 12, 2024


Weather: Partly cloudy with brief showers. High of 74. Wind NNW 8-14 mph, with gusts to 22 mph.

Cut: 82 professionals at 2-under 138 from a field of 142 professionals and two amateurs.

Second-Round Leaderboard

Pos. Player R1 R2 Total
T1 Carl Yuan 66 65 131 (-9)
T1 Austin Eckroat 65 66 131 (-9)
T1 Byeong Hun An 67 64 131 (-9)
T4 10 players 132 (-8)

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