The American Express Championship, being played in La Quinta in California has reached the halfway stage and the South Korean, Sungjae Im, has taken a one-shot lead as the field now focuses its attention on the host venue, the PGA West Stadium Course.
Played over two venues during the opening two rounds the field has now been cut to the 72 players who made it to the weekend, three of them Australians.
Cameron Davis and Matt Jones are the best of the Australians at present, rounds of 68 and 70 having Davis in a share of 16th place. Davis bogeyed his final hole after driving it into hazard left of the fairway but his round was a solid recovery from an early bogey and he finds himself just five shots off the pace set by Im.
Jones, too, is tied for 26th, his round of 68 over the Nicklaus Tournament course today seeing him improve 35 places and to the edge of contention.
Despite a bogey at his final hole today, Rhein Gibson was the other Australian to make the cut just sneaking inside the required mark with his round of 70.
Matt Jones along with Cameron Davis, the leading Australian – file photo Bruce Young
For the leader, Im, his effort to date this week is a continuation of some impressive previous performances in this particular event. He has been 10th and 12th in his two appearances here to date and the rapidly developing star has a comfort zone at the venue.
“I feel comfortable playing at the American Express and visually from the tee box it’s a course that I really like and enjoy to play,” said Im. “So I feel really comfortable throughout the round and the two courses that we’re playing this week, I like those courses and that’s what led me to a good score.
“I was also struggling with my putting leading up to this week, so I worked on my putting a lot and especially for today’s round I feel like my mid-range putts were really doing well, I dropped a lot of mid-range putts and that’s what led me to a good score today.”
Im is now the 18th ranked player in the world and has developed into one of the most consistent performers in the men’s game. He was joint runner-up at the Masters in November and has already won on the PGA Tour when successful at the Honda Classic last year.