GREENSBORO, N.C. — Joohyung Kim walked off the 18th green practically cackling to himself Friday at Sedgefield Country Club, the laughter from having left himself nearly 14 feet to save par on the hole and then promptly sinking the putt.
The Wyndham Championship has been an adventurous and amusing experience thus far for Kim, who used a 6-under 64 and another putting clinic during the second round to climb into a tie for the lead with Brandon Wu and Ryan Moore at 9 under for the tournament.
“If you would have told me after the first hole yesterday where I’d be after two days, I definitely would have taken it,” Kim said. “So pretty happy and just kind of laid back knowing I’ve got the weekend to play.”
Kim, a rising star in golf who turned 20 in June, all but face-planted out of the gate Thursday, stumbling to a quadruple bogey on his first hole of the first round. He made an 8 on the par-4 first, with his opening tee shot of the tournament pulled into the primary rough and his next attempt traveling just 48 yards and failing to find the fairway — and so on and so forth.
He rebounded with seven birdies and no bogeys the rest of the way Thursday for a 3-under 67, becoming the third PGA Tour player since 2003 to make quadruple bogey or worse on the first hole of a round and go on to card an under-par score.
Joohyung Kim studies his putt on the 18th during the second round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Kim said “all I did was laugh” in reaction to that disastrous start. He began the second round Friday on the back-nine side of the course, and after the turn his drive on No. 1 found a fairway bunker. It was an off-line moment that perhaps could’ve hinted at another nightmare scenario on the hole.
Did that conjure up any unnerving flashbacks of the eight on Thursday?
“I went in the bunker and I was like, ‘Well, here we go, just don’t make a quad,’” he said. “I was like, ‘Let’s just get this on the fairway,’ and I did.”
Kim stuffed his third shot from 119 yards to inside of 2½ feet and parred the hole.
“You know what, this is strokes gained right here, four shots better than yesterday,” he said, joking about Friday’s par. “So most improved on hole No. 1.”
Kim collected seven birdies against one bogey during the second round, with nothing higher than a 5 marked on his scorecard on this day. He birdied the par-4 second hole with a putt of more than 19 feet and poured in a birdie of nearly 30 feet on the par-3 seventh hole.
Through the 36 holes across the first and second rounds, his made putts have covered a total of 301 feet, one inch, the greatest distance over the Wyndham’s first two rounds since the tournament moved to Sedgefield in 2008.
“For me, just try to take it one day at a time, not get ahead of myself too much,” Kim said of his approach entering the weekend. “I’m just trying to enjoy myself and I completely am. So the last two rounds, if I can just play comfortably, just happy, I know I’ll have a good weekend. But I’m just happy to be out here right now.”