2021 American Express scores: Sungjae Im takes one-shot lead as host Phil Mickelson misses cut after Round 2

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Though Sungjae Im hasn’t been on the PGA Tour for very extended, the 22-year-old South Korean already feels awfully cosy on the beneficiant desert packages at The American Specific.

So do quite a few absolutely absolutely fully completely different professionals, and that is the rationale the leaderboard is so crowded heading to the weekend.

Im shot a 7-under 65 on Friday at The American Specific to take a one-stroke lead over first-round chief Brandon Hagy and 4 others.

Im, the tour’s rookie of the yr in 2019, had seven birdies in a bogey-free spherical on the Stadium Course at PGA West, highlighted by three in 4 holes all by the use of the flip. After struggling collectively collectively alongside collectively together with his putter in latest weeks, he banged in a 22-footer and an 18-footer for consecutive birdies late in his spherical.

“Visually from the tee self-discipline, it is a course that I actually like and expertise to play, so I felt actually cosy all by the spherical,” Im talked about. “The 2 packages that we’re collaborating on this week, I like these packages, and that is what led me to an necessary rating.”

Hagy was in place to affix Im at 11 beneath, nonetheless he bogeyed his closing gap with a tee shot into the inexperienced bunker to complete his 70.

Canada’s Nick Taylor (66), South Korea’s Si Woo Kim (68), Tony Finau (66) and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer (65) furthermore had been 10 beneath. Emiliano Grillo (66), Francesco Molinari (66) and Doug Ghim (68) had been two footage off the lead, and eight additional had been at eight beneath.

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Match host Phil Mickelson missed the lower, nonetheless made 18 pars Friday for the primary time in his 2,201 rounds of PGA Tour play.

Alongside collectively alongside collectively together with his drives wanting sharp and his mid-range putts dropping often, Im is off to a singular sturdy begin at a match whereby he has already achieved 10th and 12th in his quick Tour occupation.

“I am fairly glad with how I carried out all of my footage,” Im talked about. “Talking of placing, I began drawing a line on the ball as I visualize my putts, and that appeared to work fairly successfully acceptable this second.”

Im furthermore feels he may have an edge due to did not journey dwelling to South Korea all by means of the vacation break due to obligatory coronavirus quarantine required. In its place, he stayed inside the home he not too methodology as soon as extra bought in Atlanta and practiced for the mannequin new season.

The leaderboard was stacked with low scores as frequent on the Palm Springs-area match extended hosted by Bob Hope. Im, Taylor and Ancer had been amongst 12 avid avid avid players who did not make a bogey Friday.

After splitting the primary two rounds over two packages, the avid avid avid players will all play the once-feared Stadium Course for the final word phrase two rounds. Heavy cloud cowl actually not developed into rain Friday, nonetheless there is a risk of afternoon showers Saturday.

Hagy made 10 birdies in his opening spherical, nonetheless obtained off to a difficult begin Friday on the Stadium Course with two early bogeys. He rallied with birdies on his 16th and 17th holes, nonetheless his errant drive on his closing gap saved him one shot off the tempo.

“I truly actually truly actually really feel cosy acceptable appropriate correct proper right here,” Hagy talked about. “I am a California teen, been to Palm Springs a ton of occasions, so I do know the packages successfully. … The primary two rounds of this match are exhibiting me that the stuff I am engaged on, considerably this offseason, is definitely getting elevated.”

Taylor, who furthermore led the Sony Open after two rounds final week, shot a 66 with six birdies on the Stadium Course. He had three straight birdies on the as shortly as further 9 of his bogey-free spherical, together with a 24-foot birdie putt on the 15th and an 18-footer on the island inexperienced on the 17th.

Taylor seems to be rounding into spectacular choice as he prepares to defend his Pebble Seaside title in three weeks.

“My sport feels actually good acceptable now, so hopefully it retains peaking,” he talked about. “It was fairly a couple of intimidating tee footage, iron footage into greens. I truly actually truly actually really feel like I missed inside the acceptable locations. I drove it wonderful on the par-5s and gave myself fairly easy seems on pretty a few of them.”

Mickelson achieved his two rounds at 2 over, nonetheless making 18 pars felt encouraging to the 50-year-old veteran as he heads as shortly as further to his native San Diego home subsequent week.

“It is stunning, due to I actually try to hit fairways and middle of the greens and simply make easy pars,” Mickelson talked about. “For that to be the primary time, it is actually beautiful. … There’s fairly a couple of good components to take from it — one in every of many best strategies all via which I am driving the ball, my iron play. There’s fairly a couple of positives. In case you have a look on the scorecard, it is pathetic. I am not denying that. Nonetheless I take into accounts that it’s only a bit bit nearer than it seems.”

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