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If you're playing well, then why not just keep on playing? That's the attitude Tom Kim has taken, and it has proven effective through two rounds of the 2024 Travelers Championship as the 22-year-old stands at 13 under and two clear of Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Akshay Bhatia. Teeing it up for the eighth consecutive week, Kim will take the lead into the weekend at TPC River Highlands crediting a renewed sharpness in his game courtesy of his consistent competitive reps.

"I think the big difference is it's just sharper, and I'm more aware now," Kim said. "I think the work I've been doing, the past few months, it's just been kind of like making sure I can, that I feel confident out in the competition, not practice rounds, right? So, I think this stretch is making me more sharper and more ready, and I think it's kind of time to show."

Celebrating his birthday Friday, the South Korean showed this rediscovered quality in full force. Hitting 13 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation, Kim followed his opening 62 with a stress-free 65. While his putter shined Thursday, his tee-to-green presence took the wheel Friday and was met with nice birdie conversions on Nos. 8-10 to push his name even further out in front.

Expanding his overnight lead to six strokes at one stage in his second round, Kim saw those behind him inch closer as they maneuvered through TPC River Highlands. Morikawa was the first to challenge as the two-time major champion turned in 6-under 29 before adding on more birdie on the back nine to card his 63. 

Bhatia had eyes on doing one better after a birdie on the tricky par-4 17th, but a dropped shot from the middle of the fairway on the last meant Kim's lead would stand at two with two rounds to play. Joining Bhatia and Morikawa at 11 under as the sun was setting was Scheffler as a birdie conversion from just inside 8 feet on the last put the finishing touches on his 64 and put him in prime position to chase down win No. 6 of the season.

"I'm playing really well, and I know kind of what I'm doing on the golf course, so just really executing my game plan, that's just kind of how I'm doing it, and the score is the score," Kim said. "I've been playing really, really solid, and I've been saying the past few minutes that it's not about this week, it's about keep building these momentum blocks for the rest of the season."

The leader

1. Tom Kim (-13): A birdie on the par-4 10th saw Kim go six clear of the field, but that was his final birdie of his second round, which allowed some to creep closer. His lone missed fairway came on the par-5 13th leading to par and a failed up-and-down from an ideal position on the par-4 15th led to another. He's been flawless so far with 13 birdies and 23 pars across his first 36 holes, and Kim ranks first in strokes gained tee to green and first in strokes gained putting. He has a great chance to capture win No. 4 this weekend at the seasoned age of 22.

Other contenders

T2. Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler Akshay Bhatia (-11)
4. Xander Schauffele (-10)
T6. Justin Thomas, Shane Lowry, Sungjae Im (-9)
T9. Tony Finau, Robert MacIntyre, Tom Hoge (-8)

Morikawa has been sensational since the Masters with four top-four finishes in seven individual starts. While he has found his name on the first page of the leaderboard over the weekend, the American has yet to cross the finish line with his closest call coming in the form of a runner-up result to Scheffler at the Memorial. 

He's been great so far this week, but if Morikawa expects to track down Kim, his iron play may need to improve. Of his seven birdies on Friday, five came from outside 10 feet. While he ranks highly in terms of greens in regulation, Morikawa finds himself in the middle of the pack in terms of strokes gained approach through 36.

"Right now, it's just all mental," Morikawa said. "It's just not about -- I can't get lazy the next two days. The scores are going to keep getting lower, probably going to double from where we are right now, and the biggest thing for me if I want to stay in contention is just not letting my mind kind of wander. It's been a long stretch, it's hot, but I want to win and I'm going to stay as sharp as possible."

Milestone made-cut streak

Although the field was not trimmed at the halfway point, players will still receive a made cut on their résumé for their play at the Travelers. While it may not mean much for most of the field, it does for Xander Schauffele, who has now made 50 straight cuts dating back to the 2022 Masters. By reaching 50, Schauffele passes Steve Stricker (2009-12) for the longest streak since Tiger Woods' record streak of 142 from 1998 to 2005. The PGA Championship winner only has 92 more cuts to catch the cat.

"Golf, it's not just one thing," Schauffele said. "You got to be in a good head space. I got a really good team around me, fortunately. You got to do all things pretty well. I think picking up some slack in certain areas of my game that was lacking has helped me compete week-in, week-out and also given me a little bit more confidence."

2024 Travelers Championship updated odds, picks

via Sportsline Consensus

  • Scottie Scheffler: 2-1
  • Tom Kim: 4-1
  • Collin Morikawa: 9/2
  • Xander Schauffele: 6-1
  • Akshay Bhatia: 10-1
  • Justin Thomas: 22-1
  • Shane Lowry: 30-1
  • Sungjae Im: 35-1

Kim's been awesome so far, and while I think he ultimately wins, I don't love him at the price. Instead, we'll look to Im who sits just four behind. Kim's fellow countryman ranks third in strokes gained approach and sixth in scrambling through two rounds. Im will need to start finding the short grass off the tee with a bit more consistency, but if he does he should be there late on Sunday.