By Rahul Banerji
Scott Piercy of the USA squeezed to a one-shot lead with low scores dominating the leader board in the $9.5 million CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at Jeju Island on Friday.
PGA Tour player of the year Brooks Koepka rode an eagled par-5 to match Piercy with a seven-under par 65 and was one shot behind. Overnight leader Chaz Reavie fell to third after a two-under round.
Piercy is on 135, nine under after two days, Koepka is 136 and Reavie 138. Alex Noren and Ian Poulter are shared fourth on 139s.
Shubhankar Sharma meanwhile continued to slip down the standings finishing the day on five over par 147. He is now tied 71st alongside Xander Schauffele.
Piercy shot a bogey-free round and his 36-hole total matches the halfway score by Luke List in last year’s inaugural tournament, won by Justin Thomas.
Noren too had a bogey-free 65, which was a nine-shot improvement while England’s Paul Casey sank the first ever hole-in-one of the tournament at the par-3 187-yard seventh hole with a seven iron.
It was his second hole-in-one on the PGA Tour and the ninth of his career.
Said Piercy later, “Yeah, it was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length to complement some of the shorter putts that I had.
“The wind was down a little bit and a 10 miles an hour wind versus 20’s is quite a big difference. The difference between the CIMB Classic and here obviously is about 25 degrees temperature-wise.
“When it’s cold like this, the ball probably travels about 10 to 15 yards shorter.”
Added Koepka, “I’m hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple.
“It’s pretty simple, I just go. I mean, I guess you can call it like caveman golf: You see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. I’m trying to shoot the best score I can, it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 over, 7 under.
“I’m still just trying to grind it out and shoot the best score I can.”
Defending champion Justin Thomas eagled his last hole for a 70 and was eight shots off of the lead heading into the weekend in a tie for 22nd.
Brian Harman had the round of the day with an 8-under 64, 12 shots better than his first-round 76.
Marc Leishman, who won last week’s CIMB Classic by five shots and lost in a playoff here to Thomas in 2017, returned a second-round 1-under 71 for a two-day total of 2-over 146.