Hole-in-one powers Kim to four-stroke lead in Texas

Kim Si-woo hits from the bunker on the 15th hole during the second round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament at TPC San Antonio. (Reuters pic/USA Today Sports)

RALEIGH: A jubilant Kim Si-woo aced the 16th hole to push his lead to four strokes after the second round of the Texas Open at San Antonio on Friday. A group of six players, including headliners Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, were left in second place after the overnight leader’s hole-in-one.

Kim, who started the day with a one-stroke advantage, drove a nine iron to the green at the 167-yard par-three then watched the ball bounce into the hole.

The South Korean world number 61 tossed his club aside and thrust both arms into the air in celebration at his second career hole-in-one on the PGA Tour.

“I saw the bounce, but I never see it go in,” said the 23-year-old, who estimated he has made six or seven holes-in-one in all.

Kim, aiming for his third PGA Tour victory, ended the round at 12-under 132 thanks to four birdies and the ace in his second consecutive 66.

“I saw the solo lead last four holes [and I said] I can make birdie, just trying to go aggressive,” said Kim.

His previous PGA wins came at the Wyndham in 2016 and the Players Championship in 2017.

Spieth and Fowler, who both shot 68 for the second round in a row, shared second with fellow Americans Harold Varner (66) and Adam Schenk (66) as well as Canadian Corey Conners (67) and Kim’s compatriot Lee Kyoung-hoon (67).

Masters tune-up

Fowler at one point led Kim on nine-under for the tournament but back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th were costly. The 2018 Masters runner-up had been rolling along with four birdies and an eagle at the par four fifth hole against one bogey before the letdown.

The eagle came after Fowler’s drive had carried 328 yards to within four feet of the hole. He collected a fifth birdie at the 17th to ease his displeasure.

“I’m happy with it,” Fowler said of the round. “Hit some good shots out there, made a few putts. Yeah, 15, 16, kind of a little unforced errors.”

The wind was a factor in both bogeys, he said.

Former Masters champion Spieth, along with Fowler among only a handful of big names using the Texas Open to tune up for Augusta next week, also had an eagle. His came at the par-five eighth, his 17th hole of the day.

After two bogeys sandwiching a birdie in his first three holes, the Texan rebounded for four more birdies and the eagle to go with another bogey.

“I had more control with my long clubs today,” Spieth said. “Still didn’t hit many fairways, but it felt better, if that makes sense.

“So normally the better results come from the club starting to feel more in control. So I’ll just do a little bit of light work this afternoon and go into the weekend with a chance to win.”