Chad Ramey, S.H. Kim share early lead at Cognizant Classic

League: Golf

Posted on: 01 Mar, 2024 at 01:05 AM


Chad Ramey and South Korea's S.H. Kim are tied atop the leaderboard at 7-under 64 after one round of the Cognizant Classic on Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Both Ramey and Kim went bogey-free, with Kim benefitting from an early eagle hole-out while Ramey rang up five of his seven birdies on the front nine at PGA National's Champion course. Six players were tied one stroke behind the co-leaders, a group headlined by Cameron Young.

Play was suspended due to darkness with six players left to complete one hole; they will resume Friday morning before the second round begins.

Neither Ramey (World No. 253) nor Kim (No. 122) were big favorites entering the week. Ramey, 31, missed three of five cuts, and his only PGA Tour win came at the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship. Kim, 25, has won three professional events in Japan and South Korea but none stateside.

Ramey sank a 27-foot birdie putt at No. 1 to kickstart his round. He later converted a nearly 33-footer for birdie at No. 6 before just missing a hole-in-one at the par-3 seventh and making his fifth birdie putt from 6 feet.

"I got a good break this morning with there not being any wind," Ramey said. "I fully expect the rest of the week the wind to blow. I've never been here and it not blow. But to take advantage of the calm conditions is definitely a plus."

Ramey said he still draws on lessons from his Puntacana victory.

"It seems like a good while ago," the Mississippi native said.

Kim's eagle at the par-5 third hole took an unusual path. After missing the fairway far to the left, he punched his second shot into the fairway up ahead and had about 75 feet left to the hole, which he chipped in. He went on to birdie three of his final five holes, including No. 18, to tie Ramey.

Young is tied for third at 6-under 65 with Andrew Novak, Ryan Moore, Austin Eckroat, Chesson Hadley and Englishman David Skinns.

Young, 26, was the 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year but is still searching for his first win on tour. He had a colorful start to his round on the back nine, birdieing three and bogeying two of the opening five holes. He co-led the field with nine birdies, including at Nos. 8 and 9 to finish his day.

"I don't think there's any reason to be overly cautious," Young said. "There's obviously a few places you have to be, but when the wind is down like this morning and the greens aren't that firm yet, I feel like it was kind of your day to be a little bit more aggressive. Just so happened I made some putts and shot a good score."

Billy Horschel and South Africa's Erik van Rooyen were part of a tie for ninth at 5-under 66.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland kicked off a run of three straight Florida tournaments with a 4-under 67. That placed him in a large tie for 16th that includes defending champion Chris Kirk, Ireland's Shane Lowry, Australia's Min Woo Lee, Sweden's Alex Noren and FedEx Cup leader Matthieu Pavon of France.

McIlroy made five birdies before a lone bogey on his penultimate hole, the par-4 eighth.

Like Ramey and Young, McIlroy is expecting the wind to pick up for the rest of the tournament

"It was so benign today," McIlroy said. "You're not going to get this course much easier."

--Field Level Media