POTOMAC, Md. – Si Woo Kim and Tim Petrovic each fired a 5-under 65 Thursday and share the first-round lead in the weather-delayed Mid-Atlantic Championship on the Web.com Tour.
Chesson Hadley and Brett Stegmaier, a pair of Web.com Tour rookies, are in 66 and share third place with Australian veteran Gavin Coles.
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Bronson La’Cassie, Hudson Swafford, Jim Herman, Andres Gonzales and Sung Kang all finished at 3-under 67 and share sixth place.
The co-leaders are at opposite ends of the golf spectrum – Kim is a 17-year-old from South Korea who isn’t old enough to join the PGA Tour yet while the 46-year-old Petrovic made his debut on tour in 1988, nearly seven years before Kim was born.
Kim, who has yet to finish his senior year of high school back in Seoul, offset one bogey with six birdies on the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm course, the second-toughest on tour last year.
“Normally I’m not a very good putter,” said Kim, who speaks very little English and had fellow Korean Tour member Bio Kim (no relation) translate for him. “I felt I could have played better. I missed two or three good opportunities.”
Kim earned his 2013 PGA Tour card at Q-School last winter but isn’t eligible to join the PGA Tour until he turns 18 on June 28.
“I didn’t know about the rule before I went,” he said. “I found out after the third round. I was a little disappointed to learn of that but I knew I was going to try anyway.”
Kim is eligible to play up to 12 times on the PGA Tour through sponsor and/or foreign exemptions but has received only two so far – he missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Puerto Rico Open. That hasn’t kept him from trying to get into tournaments.
He earned a spot in the field this week through the Open Qualifier, the third time he’s gained a berth in five domestic attempts. He also tried three times in Monday qualifiers on the PGA Tour but missed out in San Diego, Los Angeles and south Florida.
“I’m learning a lot of things from the Mondays,” said Kim, who moved with his parents to Fullerton, Calif., after Q-School. “I am more comfortable now with my game and I feel a lot better than I did a few months ago.”
Petrovic, winner of the 2005 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, bogeyed the final hole late in the afternoon and fell into a tie for the lead with Kim.
“I putted really well, even the ones I missed,” he said. “I’ve just been waiting for the putter to wake up. I didn’t have any mystery putts out there. I got a little tired there at the end. I hit a couple of bad drives there at the end and put myself in some bad spots.”
Petrovic ran off four straight birdies starting at the second hole and quickly jumped into contention.
Hadley stumbled out of the gate when he snap-hooked his drive into the heavy rough on the opening hole and wound up with a bogey-6.
“I ended up making a pretty good six, if there is such a thing,” said the Raleigh, N.C., native. “I settled down and never really panicked, which was good. You can panic pretty easily out here and get it going in the wrong direction. This place is just brutally tough.”
Hadley struggled early in the year has begun to find his rhythm in 2013, finishing T3 and T6 the past two weeks despite not making any adjustments in his game.
“This is how golf is,” he said. “I’m not doing anything differently. I’m not waking up differently. I’m not eating differently. Unfortunately golf is managing failure and I was doing a decent job of that earlier in the year but I wasn’t having good weekends. Eventually you get comfortable and wake up. You just have to let it ride.”
--Leading money winner Michael Putnam, winner of last week’s Mexico Championship, fired a 1-over-par 71.
--Andres Gonzales has had a difficult season to date, missing the cut in all 11 of his starts – nine on the PGA Tour and two on the Web.com Tour. Gonzales says he finally seeing things come together after changing coaches a few months back.
“I’m starting to hit the ball a lot more consistently. I’m starting to hit it the middle of the face of the club,” he said after his 3-under 67 – the first time he’s broken par in the opening round this year. “The biggest thing is trying to stay positive. It’s been frustrating but at the same time it’s a game where you can’t dwell on the past. You have to keep moving forward and keep your mind on the present and keep your mind on the process.”
Gonzales admits his previous coach, Mike Davis of Las Vegas, didn’t do anything wrong.
“I’d been with him since I was 19 and was just getting to the point where I needed to hear something different,” he said. “He’s been a good mentor to me in my life and we still talk all the time.”
Gonzales’ new coach is Ann Marie Gildersleeve, the PGA head teaching professional at Austin (Texas) Country Club.
Gonzales also has a new caddie this week who knows the area – Katie Brophy, the head women’s golf coach at nearby Georgetown University. The two met when they were playing junior golf in the state of Washington.
“I’ve known her since I was about 15,” he said. “My regular caddie had a wedding to go to so I called her to see if she was available. It was nice having Katie out there. We had a good group and it was just a lot of fun.”
Brophy, a 2006 graduate of Notre Dame and a three-time All-Big East selection, spent five years as an assistant coach at Indiana University before joining the Hoyas in the summer of 2011.
--Franklin Corpening fired a 2-over 72. He made news at last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, where he received a sponsor exemption into the elite field. The Fort Worth native and TCU graduate made his PGA Tour debut in front of family and friends and tied for 14th, thanks to an 8-under 62 in the final round. His effort on Sunday vaulted him up from a tie for 62nd and he earned $112,000.
--David Lingmerth, who tied for second at The Players Championship three weeks ago, won this event last year with an 8-under par 272 total. He shot a 4-under 66 in the final round to edge out 2012 Player of the Year Casey Wittenberg by one stroke. Lingmerth is a rookie on the PGA Tour and has made six of 14 cuts this year. He is No. 34 in the FedExCup standings and No. 24 on the money list thanks to his recent finish in Florida as well as a playoff runner-up effort at the Humana Challenge in Palm Springs, Calif.