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Birthday boy Tom Kim maintains Travelers lead

Tom Kim of South Korea celebrated his 22nd birthday on Friday by securing the halfway lead at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.

Kim built upon his first-round 62 with a 5-under 65 on Friday to get to 13-under 127 through two rounds at TPC River Highlands. It’s the lowest 36-hole score of his young career, and he is two shots clear of Collin Morikawa, Akshay Bhatia and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who also had a birthday Friday.

PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is in fifth at 10 under after his second straight 65.

Kim, who is bogey-free through 36 holes, said he was not thinking about his Thursday round when he teed off with the lead.

“I’m playing really well and I know kind of what I’m doing on the golf course, so just really executing my game plan, that’s just kind of how I’m doing it, and the score is the score,” Kim said.

Already a three-time winner on tour, Kim made five birdies through his first 10 holes, including three straight at Nos. 8-10 highlighted by two 14-footers, before finishing with eight pars in a row.

Yet he did not grow his lead larger than the two strokes he began the day with, as Morikawa fired a 63 with seven birdies and no miscues.

Morikawa birdied six holes on the front nine for a 29, tying his career-best nine-hole score on tour.

“This is a course that guys aren’t going to take their foot off the gas and you got to stay on that,” Morikawa said. “… Every hole out here is essentially a birdie hole if you hit the fairway, so just got to continue that.”

Scheffler turned 28 on Friday and had his afternoon dampened by a three-hour, 14-minute weather delay after lightning struck near the area. He was one of 14 players who had to wait out the delay before completing their rounds.

He had three straight birdies at Nos. 13-15 and joined the group at 11 under by birdieing No. 18.

“Definitely better than last week,” Scheffler said, comparing his performance to his T41 finish at the U.S. Open. “I felt, like I said (Thursday), 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.”

Bhatia, who’s 22 years old and just five months older than Kim, is in contention again after winning the Barracuda Championship last July and the Valero Texas Open in April. He was briefly 12 under for the tournament before a closing bogey.

“I’m playing great,” Bhatia said. “I mean, this is why I’m playing, this is seven (tournaments) in a row for me, I just want to keep building on good golf and kind of learning as I go. I feel like I’ve been working really hard on my technique especially this week, and I feel like my coach and I have found a feel that works, so we’re just kind of trying to build on that and focus on that as much as I can.”

Shane Lowry of Ireland and Robert MacIntyre of Scotland leapt into contention by posting rounds of 62. MacIntyre, the RBC Canadian Open winner earlier this month, had four birdies on each nine. Lowry, who teamed up with Rory McIlroy to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in the spring, had six birdies and an eagle before narrowly missing a birdie at No. 18 at day’s end that would have given him 61.

Lowry is tied at 9 under with Justin Thomas (63) and South Korea’s Sungjae Im (64), while MacIntyre shares 8 under with Tom Hoge (63) and Tony Finau (67).

–Field Level Media

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