Cream rises, S. Koreans fall at PGA tourney at home

October 19, 2018

SEOGWIPO, South Korea, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) — Early South Korean contenders fell by the wayside as the cream rose to the top on the second day of the lone PGA Tour event in the country Friday.

Scott Piercy shot to the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free round of seven-under 65 at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges on Jeju Island. At 9-under overall, Piercy leads Brooks Koepka, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, by one stroke.

Koepka matched Piercy’s 65 in the second round and capped off his day with an eagle at the par-5 18th.

South Korea’s Kim Si-woo, who was tied for second place after the opening round after 69, stumbled to a 73, with five bogeys and four birdies. That left him at two-under, tied for 15th.

In this AFP photo, Scott Piercy of the United States tees off at the 12th hole during the second round of the PGA Tour's CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this AFP photo, Scott Piercy of the United States tees off at the 12th hole during the second round of the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

Countryman An Byeong-hun, who carded a 70 on Thursday, ballooned to a 77 on Friday. He had eight bogeys along with a birdie and an eagle.

One South Korean player made some noise. Jeju native Kang Sung-hoon submitted a bogey-free 67, following a 75 from the previous day. He’s sitting at 2-under for the tournament.

Kang said his short stick made all the difference.

“In terms of ball-striking, there wasn’t that much difference today compared to Thursday,” Kang said. “I went back to my hotel and thought long and hard about my putting, and put in some practice this morning.”

In more benign conditions than the first round, the 7,184-yard Club at Nine Bridges was there for the taking. Only 18 players from the 78-man field broke par Thursday, but 44 players posted an under-par score Friday.

“I mishit a lot of shots and missed some putts because of the wind yesterday, but I put most of the shots on the green today,” said Kang, who missed just two greens. “And I didn’t have to hit as many chip shots and that made it a lot easier to play.”

Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner, also credited his putter for catapulting him to the top.

In this photo provided by JNA Golf, Kim Si-woo of South Korea prepares for his tee shot at the 10th hole during the second round of the PGA Tour's CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this photo provided by JNA Golf, Kim Si-woo of South Korea prepares for his tee shot at the 10th hole during the second round of the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

“My putter showed up, and I made some putts of pretty good lengths,” he said. “I struck the ball well last week (at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia). This week, I’ve continued hitting the ball pretty well, and the putter started to warm up a little bit. Hopefully, the putter will stay there.”

Koepka said he was pleased with his “very consistent” ball-striking. He set himself up with plenty of birdie opportunities by landing his approach shots hole high.

One of the longest hitters on the tour, Koepka said he capitalized on gentle conditions by taking out his driver on most holes.

“If there’s no wind, you can definitely take advantage of it,” he said. “It brings the driver into play for me a bit more, and I can fire away.”

Overnight leader Chez Reavie remained in the hunt, after a second round of 70 put him at six-under for the tournament.

Two teammates from the victorious European Ryder Cup team, Ian Poulter of England and Alex Noren of Sweden, are tied at five-under.

Brian Harman had the low round of the day at 64, and he’s tied with four others at four-under through 36 holes.

In this AFP photo, Brooks Koepka of the United States tees off at the 16th hole during the second round of the PGA Tour's CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this AFP photo, Brooks Koepka of the United States tees off at the 16th hole during the second round of the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

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