(Reuters) - South Korean Kim Meen-whee, seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, birdied three of his last eight holes to shoot into a tie for the lead with Australian Mark Hensby after Friday’s second round of the inaugural Barbasol Championship in Auburn, Alabama.
The 23-year-old from Seoul, whose self-taught swing was borrowed from watching video footage of former world number one Tiger Woods, fired a five-under-par 66 on the Grand National layout at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
“It was really good,” Kim, whose best PGA Tour finish was a tie for eighth at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April, told reporters. “Four under in the first round and five under today ... I’m ready for the weekend.
“I’m just focused on my swing, just doing the basics, just tried to keep it in the fairway, that’s it. I didn’t try to hit it further or make a shape, nothing. Just played easy.”
Kim, ranked 485th in the world, teed off at the par-four 10th and picked up shots at the second, third and seventh for a nine-under total of 133 to edge clear of a congested leaderboard before being caught at the top by Hensby late in the day.
Hensby also finished with a flurry, birdies on three of his last four holes earning him a second-round 64 in the first PGA Tour event to be staged in the state since the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek in Birmingham.
First-round leader Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, slipped one stroke behind after carding a 70, level with fellow American Charlie Beljan (64) and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (66).
“I played well, I gave myself a lot of chances,” said Hensby, who won his only PGA Tour title at the 2004 John Deere Classic but has struggled in recent years with injuries, poor form and a loss of playing status at the top level.
“I hit a couple of wayward ones, but I haven’t played in a tournament in quite some time. You get a little nervy in the middle, but then I kind of settled down and hit some good shots.
“I’ve played a couple of mini-tours here and there, but this is my first tournament in quite some time. So, you know, it’s good to be back.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles. Editing by Andrew Both