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Korea's Kim shares first round lead at Cognizant; Bhatia way behind

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Palm Beaches | March 1, 2024 10:55:44 PM IST
SH Kim put himself in prime position to become the third Korean winner at the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches after firing a flawless 7-under 64 for the joint first-round lead with American Chad Ramey on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Kim chipped in for an eagle from 74 feet on the third hole at PGA National Resort (The Champion) and made five other birdies as he chases a maiden PGA TOUR title and looks to emulate compatriots YE Yang (2009) and Sungjae Im (2020) as a winner at the 52-year-old tournament.

Indian American Akshay Bhatia had a troubled start with an even par 71 that saw him low down in T-103rd place needing a strong second round to make the cut.

Chinese Taipei duo Kevin Yu and CT Pan, who finished tied third in Mexico last week, ensured a strong Asian presence on the leaderboard with matching 66s for tied ninth, while another Korean, Byeong Hun An and Japanese rookie Ryo Hisatsune shot 67 and 68 respectively. World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, the highest-ranked player in the field, opened with a 67.

While a maiden victory on the PGA TOUR is a big goal for Kim, who earned his card through the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022, he is not getting ahead of himself. Seeing the names of Y.E. Yang and Sungjae Im on the roll of honour provides the inspiration as well for him to keep his foot on the pedal.

Kevin Yu made an eagle on the ninth hole from 25 feet along with four birdies and a lone bogey to keep the leaders in his sight as he looks to bounce back from two successive missed cuts. He started the season strongly with top-10s at The American Express and Farmers Insurance Open and is seeking a first PGA TOUR win as well. (ANI)

 
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