SEOUL (Reuters) – After opening the CJ Cup with a stunning nine-under-par 63, Justin Thomas battled blowy conditions and some bad breaks before slipping out of the lead after a two-over 74 at the Nine Bridges course on the South Korean island of Jeju on Friday.
Luke List took a step toward earning his maiden PGA Tour win after a 67 gave him the outright lead on nine-under, while 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover also carded a 67 to sit a stroke off the pace together with Scott Brown (70).
FedExCup champion Thomas shares fourth on seven-under with Cameron Smith (68) while former world number one Jason Day faded with a two-over 74, dropping to 24th place and seven strokes off the lead.
“Today was an extremely frustrating day. It was really difficult out there,” Thomas said. “I had some bad breaks, I really did. I hit a couple of good tee shots that were in the middle of the fairway that just had terrible lies.”
Leader List said conditions would dictate strategy for the closing two rounds.
“If the wind does not blow out here, there will be a lot of birdies,” he said. “If the wind does blow, you can kind of be a little bit more strategic and try to make some pars out there.”
Kim Whee maintained home hopes of a victory at the PGA Tour’s first regular season event in South Korea after a two-under 70 lifted him into a tie for sixth on six-under with Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed and Chez Reavie, who all carded 72s.
Bae Sang-moon, understandably rusty after two years away from golf to fulfil his mandatory military service obligations, dropped out of contention after a 76 left him on three-over for the tournament.
(Reporting by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)