(Reuters) – South Korean Kim Meen-whee, seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, birdied three of his last eight holes to shoot into a tie for the lead with Australian Mark Hensby after Friday's second round of the inaugural Barbasol Championship in Auburn, Alabama.
The 23-year-old from Seoul, whose self-taught swing was borrowed from watching video footage of former world number one Tiger Woods, fired a five-under-par 66 on the Grand National layout at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
"It was really good," Kim, whose best PGA Tour complete was a tie for eighth at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April, told reporters. "Four under in the first round & five under today … I'm ready for the weekend.
"I'm just focused on my swing, just doing the basics, just tried to keep it in the fairway, that's it. I didn't try to hit it further or make a shape, nothing. Just played easy."
Kim, ranked 485th in the world, teed off at the par-four 10th & picked up shots at the second, third & seventh for a nine-under total of 133 to edge clear of a congested leaderboard before being caught at the top by Hensby late in the day.
Hensby moreover finished with a flurry, birdies on three of his last four holes earning him a second-round 64 in the first PGA Tour event to be staged in the state since the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek in Birmingham.
First-round leader Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, slipped one stroke behind after carding a 70, level with fellow American Charlie Beljan (64) & Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (66).
"I played well, I gave myself a lot of chances," said Hensby, who won his only PGA Tour title at the 2004 John Deere Classic yet has struggled in recent years with injuries, poor form & a loss of playing status at the top level.
"I hit a couple of wayward ones, yet I haven't played in a tournament in quite some time. You obtain a little nervy in the middle, yet then I kind of settled down & hit some satisfactory shots.
"I've played a couple of mini-tours here & there, yet this is my first tournament in quite some time. So, you know, it's satisfactory to be back."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles. Editing by Andrew Both)