Canadian David Hearn has himself in contention through 36 holes at the John Deere Classic.
The Brantford, Ont., native sits second heading into the weekend behind leader Michael Kim, who took a four-shot edge on Hearn on Friday in the Quad Cities, which was suspended twice because of weather concerns.
Hearn has had an up-and-down year, missing eight cuts. But his irons have been dialled in at TPC Deere Run. He birdied three of the four par-3s on Friday for a 7-under 64 and is 12-under.
“I think I just have good feelings around this golf course. I’ve always enjoyed playing it. I am putting the ball in play off the tee, which isn’t as hard here as some of the other golf courses we play. But when I am doing that, I’m giving myself good chances for birdie,” Hearn said. “The putter has been hot.”
If Hearn can win this tournament, he’ll gain entry into the British Open next week.
Kim, who is winless in 84 career PGA Tour starts, was 16 under through 35 holes, with the second round to be completed Saturday morning.
Kim birdied eight of his first 14 holes without a bogey to race past first-round leader Steve Wheatcroft, who shot 68. Wheatcroft was 12 under along with Hearn and Johnson Wagner (66).
Francesco Molinari was 11 under along with Matt Jones and Bronson Burgoon, who made two eagles on Friday and was 8 under for the round with three holes to play.
The 24-year-old Kim, a former standout at Cal, Kim, pushed his lead to three shots by hitting a wedge from 111 yards to within 5 feet for birdie on the par-4 13th.
Kim, who had missed the cut in 14 of 22 starts this season, followed that up with a 13-footer for birdie on the par-4 14th.
Wheatcroft, who led on Thursday after the best round of his career, made three bogeys on his back nine. But he’s still in position for his first top-10 finish of the season.
“Just need to tighten things up a little bit, and hopefully a good night of rest and get hydrated here and we’ll come back out [Saturday],” Wheatcroft said.
Molinari got his first official PGA Tour win two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National outside Washington, and the Italian continued his strong play at TPC Deere Run with rounds of 6-under and 5-under.
Canadians keep pace
Renowned for his ball-striking, Molinari hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation both Thursday and Friday.
“I’m happy, yeah. The game is still there. I think I can hit my irons a little bit better, especially the wedges. [Thursday] and [Friday have] been OK, but not great, so there is room for improvement,” Molinari said.
Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., (71) is 7-under, Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., (65) is 5-under, Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., (72) is 4-under while Ben Silverman, from Thornhill, Ont., (67) is 3-under.
Local favourite Zach Johnson, who won at the Quad Cities in 2012 and has seven top-5 finishes at TPC Deere Run, shot a 70 to move to 3-under, just inside the projected cut line.
Friday’s round was delayed by nearly an hour because of poor weather. It was resumed and then called because of another batch of storms that descended on the area.