S.H. Kim. Credit Getty Images

S.H. Kim put himself in prime position to become the third Korean winner at the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches after firing a flawless 7-under 64 for the joint first round lead with American Chad Ramey on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Kim chipped in for eagle from 74 feet on the third hole at PGA National Resort (The Champion) and made five other birdies as he chases a maiden PGA TOUR title and looks to emulate compatriots Y.E. Yang (2009) and Sungjae Im (2020) as a winner at the 52-year-old tournament.

Chinese Taipei duo Kevin Yu and C.T. Pan, who finished tied third in Mexico last week, ensured a strong Asian presence on the leaderboard with matching 66s for tied ninth, while another Korean, Byeong Hun An and Japanese rookie Ryo Hisatsune shot 67 and 68 respectively. World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, the highest ranked player in the field, opened with a 67.

After converting a four-foot birdie putt on the second, Kim holed out a chip at the next hole for an eagle before picking up four more birdies for his first lead/co-lead through 18 holes. He scrambled beautifully and saved par on five occasions which left him with a big smile after tying his low score of the season.

“I had a good start and I was able to play comfortably with an eagle on the third hole. There were a lot of difficult situations during the round but I made some good bunker saves and par saves, so I am satisfied,” said Kim. “There wasn’t as much wind as I thought there would be. On the third, I landed the ball the way I wanted to (on the green) and it rolled into the hole.”

While a maiden victory on the PGA TOUR is a big goal for Kim, who earned his card through the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022, he is not getting ahead of himself. Seeing the names of Y.E. Yang and Sungjae Im on the roll of honour provides the inspiration as well for him to keep his foot on the pedal.

“Tomorrow, I’m teeing off in the first group early in the morning, so I’m just going back to hotel, get some rest and be ready. Hopefully, I can continue to play like I did today for the next three days. I will just focus on my own game,” said Kim, who finished T63 in last year’s tournament.

Kevin Yu made an eagle on the ninth hole from 25 feet along with four birdies and a lone bogey to keep the leaders in his sight as he looks to bounce back from two successive missed cuts. He started the season strongly with top-10s at The American Express and Farmers Insurance Open and is seeking a first PGA TOUR win as well.

“My putting feels pretty good. The back nine, a couple of tee shots were offline, cost me a little bit. Just got quite a bit up-and-downs on the course, but overall it’s a good solid day. Irons were good, putting solid, so just got to keep it up tomorrow,” said Yu, who enjoyed a stellar amateur career with Arizona State University.

“I was just trying to play defence all day, hit the greens and try to two-putt from there. Pars are pretty good. Obviously got pretty lucky making eagle on 18, but it was definitely playing difficult today.”

C.T. Pan hit 17 greens in regulation as he made full use of his familiarity with PGA National to feature on the leaderboard. A strong outing in Mexico last weekend, where he was ill over the weekend, saw the one-time PGA TOUR winner secure his Top 125 status for the rest of 2024 after taking a major medical exemption due to wrist injury last year.


2024 Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

(9th of 36 FedExCup Regular Season events)

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida                   February 29 – March 3, 2024                 FedExCup points: 500 (winner)

PGA National Resort (The Champion)    Par/Yards: 35-36 – 71/7,147                  Purse: $9,000,000/$1,620,000


Partial First-Round Notes – Thursday, February 29, 2024


Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 80. Wind from the E at 8-15 mph.


Suspension/resumption: Play was suspended at 6:22 p.m. ET due to darkness with six players left to complete their first round. The first round will resume at 8:15 a.m. and the second round will begin as scheduled at 6:45 a.m.


Partial First-Round Leaderboard

Pos. Player R1
T1 Chad Ramey 64 (-7)
T1 S.H. Kim 64 (-7)
T3 Andrew Novak 65 (-6)
T3 Ryan Moore 65 (-6)
T3 Austin Eckroat 65 (-6)
T3 Cameron Young 65 (-6)
T3 Chesson Hadley 65 (-6)
T3 David Skinns 65 (-6)


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