CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT – JUNE 20: Tom Kim of South Korea lines up a putt on the 17th green during the first round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 20, 2024 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Korea’s Tom Kim fired his lowest score of the season with a blistering 8-under 62 for a two-shot lead at the Travelers Championship on Thursday as he chases a fourth PGA TOUR victory on his birthday week. Kim, who turns 22 on Friday, put on a stellar show with a hot putter delivering eight birdies and his career first 18-hole lead on TOUR ahead of Akshay Bhatia, Rickie Fowler, Will Zalatoris and Kurt Kitayama, who all shot 64s at TPC River Highlands. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler was amongst those lying a further stroke back while Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who signed for Boston Common Golf earlier this week for the inaugural TGL presented by SoFi starting next January, returned a 66. This is Kim’s eighth consecutive tournament in a row but the Korean star, whose English name was derived from the cartoon character Thomas the Tank Engine, intends to keep the motor running at full steam as he seeks to return into the winner’s enclosure. “It’s getting sharper and sharper, and I feel like I’ve been playing like this the last few months. I feel like that’s why I’m on my eighth week, to kind of just keep it going. It is nice to see those rounds come together and the next three days kind of keep that same game plan, whether good score or not score,” said Kim. The Korean, who has qualified for his first Olympic Games in Paris in August, hit 11 fairways and 16 greens, and found his range with the flatstick where he ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Putting. His two shortest birdie putts were from inside of four feet, with the longest being from 18 feet. His season has been consistent and lacked the spectacular which has been associated with his rapid rise to fame. It was only earlier this month that he posted a first top-10 of the year with a tied fourth at the RBC Canadian Open. He entered the final round of last week’s U.S. Open in T9 before fading to T26 with a closing 76. “I felt like my game was there, but wasn’t really showing in tournaments. I kind of sat down and I’m like, you know what, it’s almost the last stretch of the season, and I feel like I’m playing good, I just can’t, for some reason I can’t show it off in golf tournaments,” he said. “I think that’s the reason why I’m playing a lot more than I normally ever would is because if you keep getting reps in, you kind of keep sharpening, sharpening, sharpening and that’s what’s happening. So it’s, I’m glad to kind of see it actually come out though,” added Kim, who finished T38 in his debut at TPC River Highlands last year. Sharing the same birthday with Scheffler, who has become a close friend, the Dallas-based Kim said they enjoyed what has become a customary joint celebration by gorging down pizzas. “We had some pizza early on in the week,” smiled Kim. “I had a lot of pizza. So I kind of told myself, no matter what, I wouldn’t do that in a tournament, but it’s my birthday and it’s kind of a tradition, you know, me, Scottie, we have the same birthday, so I we had an early birthday celebration.” Matsuyama, a nine-time PGA TOUR winner, ended the first round in tied 13th place after finishing strongly with four birdies over his last five holes while Korea’s Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim shot a 67 and 69 respectively. Another Korean, Byeong Hun An, withdrew during the first round due to illness. First-Round Notes – Thursday, June 20, 2024 Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 93. Wind SW 10-15 mph, gusting to 18 mph.Round two update: Tee times will begin at 7:05 a.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled, due to forecasted inclement weather. First-Round Leaderboard

Pos.PlayerTotal1Tom Kim62T2Akshay Bhatia64T2Rickie Fowler64T2Kurt Kitayama64T2Will Zalatoris64


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