S.H. Kim of South Korea (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Korea’s S.H. Kim extended his fun ride on the crest of a wave by firing a solid 4-under 66 in the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge for tied second place, one behind leader Charley Hoffman, on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Kim hit a brilliant eagle, three birdies and a lone bogey at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas to position himself well for a maiden PGA TOUR victory. Compatriot Tom Kim carded an opening 69 which was matched by Chinese Taipei duo C.T. Pan and Kevin Yu.

The month of May has certainly been memorable as Kim posted a tied fourth at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson earlier in the month for his season’s best to date before finishing tied 63rd at the PGA Championship last weekend in what was his major debut. On Monday, he successfully qualified for next month’s U.S. Open, the year’s third major, after prevailing in a seven-man playoff for the final six tickets to Pinehurst.

“I’m glad to finish on the leaderboard today. It could have been a bogey-free round but I got one bogey. I wasn’t feeling 100% but it was great round overall,” said a delighted Kim, who is tied with the likes Open champion Brian Harman and Tony Finau.

Despite not seeing all 18 holes of the newly-refurbished Colonial as his pro-am round was canceled after seven holes due to poor weather, Kim put together an impressive card in calmer conditions during his morning round. Starting his day from the 10th, he rolled in a 21-footer for birdie on 13 and then set up an easy four-foot eagle following a superb fairway metal approach from 260 yards on the par-5 first hole. He knocked in a 15-footer on the second and then capped his day with a superb approach to three feet on his last hole.

“I was in the U.S. Open Monday qualifying earlier this week, so I didn’t get a chance to look at this golf course too much. I got to play seven holes only in the pro-am. Compared to last year, the course is firmer and it feels like the shapes of the holes are similar to last year. There is undulation on the greens but I think overall I had a great first round,” said Kim.

He is looking to maintain his run of good form to improve on his current 94th ranking on the FedExCup points list and also challenge for a first PGA TOUR victory where his best finish to date was a runner-up outing at the Fortinet Championship last year. An upcoming start at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst is also an enticing prospect after his first major taste at Valhalla last week.

“I’m glad to get to play in the U.S. Open this year. I didn’t get a chance to do so last year, but this year, I’m happy to play in one more major. I hope to give it my best shot to see what I can do,” said Kim.

Hoffman, a four-time PGA TOUR winner, missed only two fairways and three greens, and always looked in control of his game. “It’s one of those golf courses you want to be aggressive on because you have some mid and low irons in, but you can’t get too aggressive out here because the greens are small and it’s hard to get up-and-down,” Hoffman said. “So I would say it was somewhat an easy 5-under, which are nice. They’re not always that way, but it was low stress.”

First-Round Notes – Thursday, May 23, 2024

Weather: Mostly cloudy with afternoon showers. High of 83. Wind S 10-20 mph.

First-Round Leaderboard

Pos.        Player                    R1

1              Charley Hoffman 65 (-5)

T2            S.H. Kim                 66 (-4)

T2            Martin Laird          66 (-4)

T2            Davis Riley             66 (-4)

T2            Brian Harman       66 (-4)

T2            Tony Finau            66 (-4)

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