(Reuters) – Bryson DeChambeau birdied four of his final six holes to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Friday, a career-best seven-under 64 moving him ahead of Ian Poulter (64) and Kim Si-woo (65).
After an eagle, two bogeys and three birdies on the front nine, American DeChambeau picked up shots at the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to leapfrog above Poulter and Kim.
He closed by saving par on the last despite finding a greenside bunker with his approach to end the day at 10-under 132 at the Harbour Town course on Hilton Head Island, where he began his pro career two years ago.
“Obviously my iron play is incredible, and when I get going I can get hot,” DeChambeau told reporters. “But this course just fits my eye. The shaping of the holes, and just a couple of the doglegs, I’m able to shape shots.”
DeChambeau, 24, earned his first PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic last July and was runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He tied for 38th at last week’s U.S. Masters.
“I know my game is good enough to be with the elites in the game,” DeChambeau added.
“I’m not there yet. I know that. But I certainly am moving in the right direction, figuring a lot of great things out that’s helping me on the golf course.”
Overnight leader Rory Sabbatini (70) of South Africa, former FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker (64) and fellow Americans Chesson Hadley (68) and Luke List (64) were tied for fourth at eight-under 134
Englishman Poulter, who won at Houston earlier this month, went out with the early starters and made seven birdies in a bogey-free trip around the course.
The world number 31, playing a sixth PGA Tour event in as many weeks, said he was feeling more upbeat than he was a year ago when he entered the final round at Harbour Town three shots off the lead before a 73 left him in a share of 11th place.
“Confidence is definitely there from a perspective of feeling like I can be more aggressive right now,” Poulter said.
“The (Houston) win helps a lot. I can free myself up in my mind. I can start attacking pins and just play free golf. And when you’re in that position, sometimes the game feels easy when sometimes it isn’t.”
Korean Kim started on the back nine and after a birdie at his fourth hole, stumbled with a triple-bogey at the par-three 14th after he sent his tee shot into a greenside bunker and was assessed a penalty stroke for touching the sand with his hand.
However, the two-time PGA Tour winner responded immediately with three consecutive birdies and added another five on his final nine holes, including at the last.
“This might be the first time I played so well with a triple bogey,” Kim said. “I have a great feel around the greens and I feel really confident around the greens.”
World number one Dustin Johnson, fresh off a 10th-place finish at the Masters, was six shots off the pace after mixing three birdies with a bogey for a two-under 69 and 138 total.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by John O’Brien)