Korean duo Si Woo Kim and Byeong Hun An produced solid starts with matching 3-under 67s at the Charles Schwab Challenge for a share of seventh position on Thursday, five back of runaway first round leader, Harry Hall of England.
The 27-year-old Kim, who is ranked 11th on the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup points list, opened with three consecutive birdies from the 10th to 12th holes before trading two more birdies against as many bogeys in the US$8.7 million PGA TOUR event at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
An, chasing a first PGA TOUR win, also got out of the blocks quickly with birdies on Hole Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14 before picking up another shot on the first hole. However, he dropped bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes to join Kim in a 15-way tie for seventh place including world No. 1 and last year’s runner-up Scottie Scheffler and defending champion Sam Burns.
Another Korean, K.H. Lee was the next best Asian performer after a 68, while Marty Zecheng Dou of China, fresh from a career firs top-10 at the AT&T Byron Nelson two weeks ago, is a further two shots back.
Si Woo Kim has every reason to be satisfied with his solid start on a course he has never made the cut (2019-2021). The winner of January’s Sony Open in Hawaii was quick to acknowledge the importance of keeping the ball in the fairway if he is to make a strong push for his fifth PGA TOUR career victory.
“I had a good start with three birdies in a row. I wanted to keep the momentum but with the wind blowing on the back nine, it was really hard to keep it in the fairway,” said Kim, who finished runner-up at the AT&T Byron Nelson a fortnight ago but missed the cut at last week’s PGA Championship.
“I tried to hang in there right until the end and managed to finish the round decently. All in all, I did well from tee shot to putting and this has led to a great game. I think this course is one of the courses that which is difficult to keep it the fairway. I think it probably ranked top three to five (most challenging) on PGA TOUR. With the wind blowing, tee shots would be harder. So, keeping it in the fairway would be crucial and I want to make sure I do that for days to come.
“It wasn’t really a happy ending compared to the good start but to start the week by sitting in the top 10 of the leaderboard, I think I might have a chance of contending if I don’t give up and keep my game on track,” added Kim, who is presently ranked 11th on the FedExCup points list.
An, a former U.S. Amateur champion, knows he must keep his foot on the pedal. In his last two appearances here in 2020 and 2021, he also opened with a 67 but ended the week in T60 and T50 respectively.
The day clearly belonged to Hall, a two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner, whose brilliant 8-under 62 saw him lead by three strokes from Harris English. Four players – Tom Hoge, Adam Schenk, Robby Shelton and Andrew Putnam – are a further stroke back on 4-under.
“I don’t tend to see anything coming. But I played some good golf this season, and I’ve had a couple of top 10s. This feels nice to be on the leaderboard,” said Hall, whose best PGA TOUR outing in his 25 starts thus far was a T7 at Puerto Rico Open.
First-Round Notes – Thursday, May 25, 2023
Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind ESE 8-13 mph.
Harry Hall 62 (-8)
Harris English 65 (-5)
Tom Hoge 66 (-4)
Adam Schenk 66 (-4)
Robby Shelton 66 (-4)
Andrew Putnam 66 (-4)