SILVIS – (Wire Service Report) – After his second consecutive day of 8-under-par play, Michael Kim leads the John Deere Classic by four strokes after Round 2 fell just short of completion on Friday in Silvis, Illinois. Kim’s day ended as he was set to putt for birdie at the 18th, with eight birdies and no bogeys under his belt before play was suspended for the day. He sits at 16 under, four strokes ahead of the rest of the field.
Inclement weather caused a 51-minute delay earlier in the evening before the halt of play, which will resume early Saturday morning. Including Kim, 23 of 149 players in the field were unable to finish Round 2, though none have more than three holes remaining.
Tour officials announced earlier in the day that the first wave of Round 3 would be sent as threesomes off of the first and 10th tees, due to expected inclement weather on Saturday.
Steve Wheatcroft, who blistered a 62 on Thursday to grab the 18-hole lead, Johnson Wagner and Canada’s David Hearn share the best score in the clubhouse at 12-under 130.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari and Australia’s Matt Jones are another stroke back, while Bronson Burgoon is also at 11 under through 15 holes of his second round. Four players are tied for eighth at 10 under for the tournament.
After scorching the back nine for six birdies on Friday, Kim picked up where he left off, collecting five birdies on the front nine, including four between Nos. 5-9. All five came after precise approach shots to inside of nine feet. He then drained a 21-footer for birdie at the 11th and bagged two more birdies at the 13th and 14th. He will attempt a birdie putt at the 18th from 27 feet when play resumes Saturday.
Kim, who turns 25 on Saturday, has two top 10s and no victories 83 career PGA Tour starts, notching his best finish when he tied for third at the Safeway Open in 2016.
“The last couple weeks it’s felt pretty close,” Kim told reporters after his round. “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.”
Wheatcroft appeared to be headed for another terrific round after he started on No. 10 and birdied five of his first eight holes to get to 14 under for the tournament. But he three-putted the par-5 second before needing three strokes to get up and down from 17 feet at No. 3. He then birdied No. 5 before bogeying the ninth, after his drive found heavy rough, finishing the day with a modest, 3-under 68.
“I’m very disappointed with the back nine,” he said afterward, “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 lost in a playoff at the event to Jordan Spieth in 2013, also bogeyed the ninth after finding heavy rough off the tee, but he cruised through the rest of his day. He tallied four birdies each on the front and back nines to shoot 64.
Wagner collected seven birdies — including a 29-footer on No. 11 — and two bogeys en route to a 66.
Jones, Burgoon and John Huh matched Kim at 8 under on the day, though Burgoon has yet to tee off at No. 7 for his final three holes of the round. Burgoon opened the day on No. 10 with a four-footer for eagle, then sunk a 29-footer for another eagle at No. 17, along with four other birdies.
Huh had nine birdies in his round, including five in his first six holes, and a lone bogey, while Jones had six birdies and an eagle at No. 2 via a 27-footer.
Molinari, the highest-ranked player in the field and No. 15 in the world, finished with six birdies and one bogey to shoot 66.
The next-highest ranked player, defending champion and No. 22 Bryson DeChambeau, withdrew midway through Round 1 with a right shoulder injury.