SCOTTSDALE, Arizona(Reuters) - James Hahn, renowned for his “Gangnam Style” moves at the TPC Scottsdale in 2013, used a fast start and solid finish to edge one shot clear after Friday’s second round of the Phoenix Open at the same venue.
The 34-year-old, who was born in South Korea but educated in the United States and now lives close to the Scottsdale layout, fired a flawless 65 to post a 10-under halfway total of 132 in front of an announced record Friday attendance of more than 160,000 fans.
Bidding for his second PGA Tour victory, Hahn birdied three of his first six holes and three of the last eight to end a sunny day in the Arizona desert one ahead of American world number four Rickie Fowler (68) and New Zealand’s Danny Lee (66).
Japanese Hideki Matsuyama (70) and Irishman Shane Lowry (70), joint leaders with Fowler after the weather-delayed opening round, were a further two shots back in a tie for fourth with American Harris English (67).
Enjoyment was the watchword for Hahn, who claimed his first PGA Tour title in a three-way playoff for last year’s Northern Trust Open, as he totaled only 25 putts in breezy conditions to take over at the top.
”Fun, I‘m having fun out there,“ a smiling Hahn told reporters. ”I‘m making a lot of putts, hitting a lot of fairways, giving myself many opportunities to make birdie.
“And I‘m sleeping in my own bed this week. I live about 10 minutes away from here. I‘m looking forward to a good weekend.”
Hahn has always enjoyed having fun and became a YouTube sensation three years ago when he followed a final-round birdie on the raucous par-three 16th hole at the Phoenix Open with his rendition of the “Gangnam Style” dance.
“It’s the one week out of the year where you’re allowed to do anything you want and not get fined,” he explained.
“So the fact that the PGA Tour is a little lenient on us doing whatever things you want to do on that hole, it’s good for golf, good for the game, good for the fans.”
“Gangnam Style” was a blockbuster hit single recorded by the South Korean musician Psy in 2012.
Psy’s video is the most watched ever on YouTube, with more than 2.5 billion views, while Hahn’s rendition has had more than 364,000 views.
Fowler, who missed the cut at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open after winning the previous week at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship, was delighted to maintain his new-found form on the greens.
Three-times former winner Phil Mickelson, a popular figure at Scottsdale after attending the nearby Arizona State University, was a distant eight strokes off the pace after carding a 71.
Editing by Andrew Both