Korea’s Sungjae Im cruised into joint fourth place at the halfway stage of the RBC Heritage on Friday as he sought to quickly ease the pain of missing the cut at the Masters Tournament last week.
Im shot a six-under 65 in the second round at Hilton Head for a two-day total of 9-under 133 to lie seven shots back of runaway leader and two-time champion Stewart Cink, who fired a second straight 63 to lead by five on 16-under from Corey Conners.
Im had finished runners-up on his Masters debut in last November. The one-time winner on the PGA Tour had high hopes of reproducing his form at Augusta National last week but endured a shortened week following disappointing rounds of 77 and 80.
“I did not play well last week, so I did a lot of practice over the weekend. I just tried to get my good feelings back and return to where I was with my good form. So I think that has helped me this week,” said the 23-year-old, currently ranked 23rd on the FedExCup standings.
Starting on the back nine, Im bogeyed the 15th hole which sparked his game to life as he snared birdies over the next three holes from 10, 16 and seven feet respectively before making a superb eagle on the par-5 second hole. The Korean star picked up three more birdies against another bogey coming home.
“I hit good shots out there, as well as yesterday. Hence, I was able to get this good score. I am a few strokes behind Stewart but I will play my own game without thinking about the score or looking at the leaderboard. I will keep calm and try to control my mind and hope to get some good scores over the weekend,” said Im.
Im’s highlight of the day was the eagle. After pushing his tee shot on the second hole, he made a superb recovery by carving his approach around some trees which landed to about five feet which he converted. “I did not have a good sight for my second shot as some trees blocked the path. So I hit a slice 20 yards left, and it landed in the middle of the green and close to the pin where I could make an eagle there,” he said.
The 47-year-old Stewart Cink set a new personal best and tournament 36-hole scoring record with a pair of 63s for his career sixth lead/co lead on the PGA TOUR. Since making a bogey on his opening hole on Thursday, the American veteran has hit 13 birdies and two eagles as he chases a second victory of the season. Only Bryson DeChambeau has won multiple times.
With his son Reagan on caddying duties, the former British Open champion played down his record run so far as he chases a career eighth TOUR victory. “It doesn’t feel all that special, to be honest with you,” Cink said. “We just kind of worked our game plan.”
Korea’s Sung Kang will enter the weekend in T16 place after shooting a second successive 68 on Friday while Si Woo Kim, winner of The American Express in January, lies in T31 on 138. Amongst those who missed the halfway cut include Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira (72, 71) and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan (72, 72), both former winners of the event.
36-hole cut: 65 professionals at 2-under 140 from a field of 134 professionals.
Second-Round Leader board
Stewart Cink 63-63—126 (-16)
Corey Conners 67-64—131 (-11)
Emiliano Grillo 68-64—132 (-10)
Leading Asian Scores
Sungjae Im 68-65 – 133 (-9)
Things to Know
Stewart Cink shatter previous RBC Heritage 36-hole record by three strokes
At 47 years old, Cink becomes the oldest player to hold the 36-hole lead at the event
RBC Ambassador Corey Conners seeks to become the first Canadian to win the RBC Heritage; would be the sixth international winner since 2012
Emiliano Grillo is the only player bogey-free through 36 holes
Defending champion Webb Simpson enters the weekend T40