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Tom Kim builds 2-shot lead over Scheffler, Morikawa at Travelers Championship

CROMWELL (AP) – Tom Kim is looking at the long term with his golf game and is getting short-term results at the Travelers Championship, where he followed an opening 62 with a five-under 65 on Friday for the lowest 36-hole score of his career and a two-shot lead.

Kim had to settle for eight straight pars on the soggy TPC River Highlands and still finished at 13-under 127, two shots ahead of a group that includes Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa.

Scheffler, coming off his first middle-of-the-road performance of the year at the United States (US) Open, had to wait through a storm delay of more than three hours to finish his last two holes. He made an eight-foot birdie on the 18th for a 64.

Morikawa (63) and Akshay Bhatia (65), who also was two behind, finished before the storms.

Kim and Scheffler both celebrated birthdays during the second round – Kim is 22 and Scheffler is 28 – and did their birthday damage earlier in the week with a trip to one of the Connecticut’s best known pizza joints.

Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide since his victory in Las Vegas last fall.

“I think the work I’ve been doing has… the past few months it’s just been kind of like making sure that I feel confident out in the competition, not practice rounds,” Kim said. “So I think this stretch is making me sharper and more ready and I think it’s kind of time to show.”

Tom Kim during the second round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands, United States. PHOTO: AP

There certainly should be no rust for the 22-year-old Kim.

He has not missed a tournament dating to the Byron Nelson, making this his eighth consecutive tournament.

Scheffler tied for 41st last week in the US Open at Pinehurst No 2, a course he never quite figured out. It was the first time since the fall of 2022 that he was outside the top 40.

He looks like the number one player this week, missing only one fairway and one green in the second round. That was key to scoring because officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls provided they were in the short grass.

“Definitely better than last week,” Scheffler said. “I felt like I found a little stuff in my swing and feel like I’m seeing the breaks a lot better on these greens. Definitely feeling some good momentum from the last two days.”

Scheffler birdied four of his last six holes, the final two after the rain delay. He left his approach below the hole on the 18th to set up his final birdie.

Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts. He picked up his final birdie on the par-3 16th and will be in the final group with Kim.

Morikawa, a two-time major champion, has been getting himself in the mix at the some of the bigger events over the past few months. He played in the last group at the Masters and the PGA Championship until falling back.

This round was largely about putting. Morikawa made a pair of birdies from the 15-foot range early punctuated by a 30-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole. His swing looks to be back to be as consistent as ever.

“I know where the ball’s going, so that helps,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, I want to be able to get the win and that’s kind of what’s stopping me from being on a great run. It’s a big mental mindset. When you know where the ball’s going it’s a lot easier to play golf, and I’ve kind of been able to trust that.”

PGA champion Xander Schauffele had another 65 and was alone in fifth place, three shots behind. Another shot back were Shane Lowry (62) and Justin Thomas (63).

Lowry hit a magnificent approach with a five-wood on the par-5 13 and rolled in the long birdie. That put him at eight-under par for the day, with a couple of good birdie chances on the in. But the Irishman had a couple of pedestrian wedges – from the fairway, one a pitch – for pars.

And then the horn sounded to stop play, and Lowry had to settle for three pars.

Thomas, who chipped in for eagle on the 13th, had his lowest score since a 61 in The American Express in the California desert to start the year.

The signature event has no cut – the field is 70 players – and a USD20 million purse.

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