Golf: Korea's Im stays with the pack at Wells Fargo Championship

Charlotte (USA), May 11 (IANS) South Korean star Sungjae Im fought hard to stay in the title mix with a second straight 3-under 68 at the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday as overnight leader Xander Schauffele maintained a firm grip on the PGA TOUR’s US$20 million Signature event.

The 36-year-old Im produced a superb fightback after dropping two shots in his opening three holes at Quail Hollow Club as he traded six birdies against three bogeys for 6-under 136, leaving him in tied fourth place and five back of 36-hole leader Schauffele.

Schauffele, who is seeking an eighth PGA TOUR title, leads by four strokes over world No. 2 Rory McIlroy and Jason Day following a near-faultless 67 for 11-under. McIlroy, a three-time winner of the event, and Day, victorious in 2018, shot 68 and 67 respectively for tied second place on 7-under.

Byeong Hun An, who is eighth on the FedExCup standings, posted a 68 for T7 as he continued his pursuit of a maiden PGA TOUR victory, although he will need to go low over the weekend to reel in the in-form leader.

After struggling to an opening 73, Tom Kim, a three-time TOUR winner, bounced back with a 69 to climb to T33 on 142, one ahead of his fellow Korean star Si Woo Kim, who carded a 73.

Im, a two-time PGA TOUR winner, turned in 37 before coming alive on the back nine by birdieing the third, fourth, seventh and eighth holes.

Currently 48th in the FedExCup standings, Im will be looking to capitalise on the positives and reverse his fortunes after a challenging start to the season where he has managed only one top-10 finish in 12 starts to date.

The tenacious Schauffele, who is ranked fourth in the world, could have enjoyed a larger lead at the top of the leaderboard if he had not closed with a bogey at the par-4 18th hole. He narrowly missed matching Day’s 36-hole tournament record of 130, achieved at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

“Just played some really nice golf the last two days. Really happy to get that last hole in. I know it wasn’t – most of it was pretty until the end there,” said Schauffele, the Tokyo Olympics gold medallist.

“I played some really good golf I’d say in the last year-ish. I haven’t won in a couple of years, but I’ve definitely been close. Just got to really stay present in those tough spots that have got me in the past.”



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