The young golfer’s assault on Crestview Country Club’s back nine during Friday’s second round of the Air Capital Classic wasn’t unprecedented.
South Korea’s Si Woo Kim became the ninth player in tournament history to shoot a 29 on the North course’s friendly scoring side on his way to a 5-under-par 66.
“The weak part of my game is putting but they went in pretty good today,” Kim said through translator and fellow golfer Sung Kang. “I expected a good round but just didn’t play well on the (front) side.”
Still, Kim, who is tied for 14th — five shots behind leader Nathan Tyler — owns what none of his predecessors had when they accomplished the feat. The 17-year-old earned a PGA Tour card at the tour’s qualifying tournament in December.
Kim is playing in Wichita because he isn’t eligible for PGA Tour membership until he turns 18 on June 28. Until then, his only way to play on the big tour is through Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions.
Kim entered the PGA Tour’s last Q-school in the fall and made it through all four stages, including a pre-qualifier. He tied for 20th at the final stage in La Quinta, Calif., to earn one of 26 cards that were awarded.
But Kim wasn’t aware of the age restriction until late in the tournament.
“I’d been dreaming about playing on the PGA Tour,” Kim said. “It’s just a rule.”
Kim has played in two PGA Tour events, receiving sponsor exemptions into the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and Puerto Rico Open. He also advanced through three Monday qualifiers on the Web.com Tour.
In his previous tournament, the Mid-Atlantic Championship, Kim shared the first-round lead with a 65 and tied for 11th. That finish earned him a spot at Crestview.
“I’m working on my game out here to learn and prepare for the PGA Tour,” Kim said.
Making a living – Kelly Kraft has some work to do to earn significant money this weekend at Crestview. But the former SMU golfer is happy to be doing it.
Kraft won the 2011 U.S. Amateur, defeating Web.com member and a former world No. 1 amateur Patrick Cantlay 2-up in the 36-hole final at Erin Hills. The victory earned Kraft, a Denton, Texas, native, invitations to play in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in 2012.
Kraft played on the U.S. Walker Cup team in 2011 and took advantage of his Masters opportunity the following spring. He was one of three amateurs to make the cut and finished 62nd. Then Kraft turned pro, bypassing automatic entry into the U.S. and British Opens.
“My main deal was I wanted to play in the Masters and then turn pro and use some of my sponsor invites to play on the PGA Tour,” said Kraft, who made the Air Captial Classic cut at 1 under. “I’d do it all over again, definitely. I’ve learned a lot playing professional golf.”
This year, Kraft made just under $40,000 in two PGA Tour starts. He has made three cuts in five Web.com tournaments.
Kraft said foregoing some of the spoils of his amateur status wasn’t easy.
“It’s not every day you win the U.S. Amateur,” Kraft said. “After I thought about it and talked to my parents about it, I knew what I wanted to do.
“There’s a lot of cool names on that trophy. I’m just glad to have my name right there with them.”
Putnam’s plan – Tour money leader Michael Putnam wasn’t pleased with his rounds of 73 and 72 that cost him the chance to win three consecutive Web.com events. But the Mexico Championship and Mid-Atlantic Championship winner will have the opportunity for extended work with his Raleigh, N.C.-based swing coach, Patrick Kelley, before next week’s Rex Hospital Open, also in Raleigh.
“I’ll leave (Saturday) and get a couple extra days of work with him,” Putnam said. “I saw him in South Carolina about four weeks ago and went out and won the next two tournaments.
“I’ll get there and he’ll just break me down. He’s a pretty good tune-up usually.”
Putnam, whose primary goal is to maintain his No. 1 spot on the money list and receive the fully exempt PGA Tour status that comes with it, dismissed feeling any pressure to win at Crestview.
“There’s a lot of the year left, some good tournaments that I like playing and some courses I’ve played well on,” said Putnam, whose brother, Andrew, survived the 36-hole cut. “So I’m looking forward to those and looking forward to getting some work done and sharpening my game a little bit.”
Etc. – Tour veteran Paul Claxton took sole possession of two Air Capital Classic records by making the 36-hole cut. Claxton, who is 1 under, advanced to the weekend for the eighth consecutive time and 11th overall. Both are tops in tournament history.… Brenden Pappas withdrew from the tournament after playing five holes in Thursday’s first round.