(Reuters) – American Michael Kim forged a four-stroke lead through 17 holes before play was suspended due to inclement weather at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois on Friday.
The South Korean-born Kim racked up eight birdies to surge past first-round leader Steve Wheatcroft on a day when action was halted twice by rain and lightning warnings.
Play will resume early on Saturday to conclude the second round before the third can commence.
Kim, who shot an eight-under 63 in the first round, had reached 16-under-par for the tournament and was on the 18th hole when the players were called in for a final time.
The 24-year-old is still looking for his first career PGA Tour victory, with a tie for third at the 2016 Safeway Open his best finish to date. “The last couple weeks it’s felt pretty close,” Kim told reporters. “Just felt like if I could get the putter going and get some good momentum, I could shoot some good scores. “The putter has been really hot, hitting my irons great, driving it pretty good. So just kind of coming together at a great time this week.” Canadian David Hearn (64), and Americans Wheatcroft (68) and Johnson Wagner (66) were in a three-way tie for second at 130 after completing their rounds.
Journeyman Wheatcroft, the overnight leader after recording nine birdies in an opening 62, lost his way after reeling off five more birdies in his opening nine holes on Friday.
Playing the back nine first, he made the turn in 31 strokes, putting him five-under for the day and at 14-under for the tournament, before his progress stalled.
The American suffered his first bogey of the tournament when he three-putted the second hole, his 11th, and dropped another shot on the next as Kim, playing behind him, began his surge.
Wheatcroft briefly rallied with a birdie on the par-four fifth but another bogey at his last sealed a disappointing end to the day.
“I’m very disappointed with the back nine,” Wheatcroft said. “We’ll get after it again tomorrow. I’m in a good spot, and hopefully I’m not too far off the lead.”
Hearn, who was among the early finishers, managed eight birdies, with a lone bogey at the ninth representing his only blemish. Wagner, meanwhile, mixed seven birdies with two bogeys.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Additional reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O’Brien)