© Supplied by Associated Press Sungjae Im strikes from the 6th tee throughout the second round of The American Express golf competition on the Pete Dye Stadium Course at PGA West on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP)– Sungjae Im shot a 7-under 65 on Friday at The American Express to take a one-stroke lead over first-round leader Brandon Hagy and four others.

Im, the 22-year-old South Korean who was the PGA Trip’s novice of the year in 2019, had 7 birdies in the bogey-free round on the Stadium Course at PGA West, highlighted by three in four holes around the turn.

Hagy remained in position to sign up with Im at 11 under, but he bogeyed his final hole with a tee shot into the fairway bunker to finish his 70.

Canada’s Nick Taylor (66 ), South Korea’s Si Woo Kim (68 ), Tony Finau (66) and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer (65) also were 10 under. Emiliano Grillo (66 ), Francesco Molinari (66) and Doug Ghim (68) were 2 shots off the lead.

The leaderboard was crowded with low ratings as typical at the Palm Springs-area tournament long hosted by Bob Hope. Im, Taylor and Ancer were among 12 players who didn’t make a bogey Friday.

© Provided by Associated Press Sungjae Im hits from the seventh fairway throughout the second round of The American Express golf tournament on the Pete Dye Stadium Course at PGA West on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

After splitting the first 2 rounds over two courses, the players will all play the once-feared Stadium Course for the final two rounds.

Competition host Phil Mickelson made 18 pars for the very first time in his 2,201 rounds of PGA Tour play. The 50-year-old missed the cut at 2 over.

With his drives looking sharp and his mid-range putts dropping routinely, Im is off to another strong start at a competition in which he has actually currently completed 10th and 12th in his short PGA Trip profession.

” I’m quite pleased with how I played all of my shots,” said Im, who feels his putting has actually improved dramatically this year. “Speaking of putting, I started drawing a line on the ball as I visualize my putts, and that seemed to work pretty well today.”.

Im also feels he may have an edge because didn’t travel house to South Korea during the vacation break due to the mandatory coronavirus quarantine required. Rather, he remained in your home he recently purchased in Atlanta and practiced for the new season.

© Provided by Associated Press Si Woo Kim, right, bumps fists with Ted Potter Jr. after they ended up the 2nd round of The American Express golf competition on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

Hagy made 10 birdies in his opening round, however got off to a rough start Friday on the Stadium Course with two early bogeys. He rallied with birdies on his 16th and 17th holes, but his errant drive on his final hole kept him one shot off the speed.

Taylor, who likewise led the Sony Open after 2 rounds recently, shot a 66 with 6 birdies on the Stadium Course. He had 3 straight birdies on the back 9 of his bogey-free round, including a 24-foot birdie putt on the 15th and an 18-footer on the island green at the 17th.

Taylor appears to be rounding into outstanding form as he prepares to protect his Pebble Beach title in 3 weeks.

” My game feels really great today, so ideally it keeps peaking,” he stated. “It was a great deal of intimidating tee shots, iron shots into greens. I feel like I missed out on in the right places. I drove it actually good on the par-5s and gave myself quite easy looks on a few of them.”.

© Offered by Associated Press Si Woo Kim hits from the 17th tee during the second round of The American Express golf tournament on the Nicklaus Competition Course at PGA West, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

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