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Bio Kim leads halfway through Calif. qualifier

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Bio Kim scorched the Newport Beach Country Club course and set the pace through 18 holes with a 9-under 62 at a U.S. Open sectional qualifier on Monday.

Kim, 22, from Seoul, had just one bogey in calm conditions and led Aaron Goldberg by three strokes at the 36-hole event. Both players enjoyed the easier course and conditions at Newport Beach. In fact, 14 of the top 17 scores from the morning wave were scored on the Newport Beach layout.

Only Jesse Schutte, Cole Ogden and Steven Alker played their way into the top 10 at Big Canyon Country Club, which will host the playoff if one is needed at the end of the day to determine who receives one of the five spots in next week’s U.S. Open.

Kim, however, appeared poised to weather the increasingly difficult conditions at Big Canyon.

“I hit my driver really well and didn’t make many mistakes,” said Kim, who was the youngest player on the PGA Tour in 2011 but has been playing the Web.com Tour this season.

Amateur Max Homa and Garrett Sapp were tied for third place at 5 under. Homa took medalist honors at last week’s NCAA Championship in Georgia but decided to play the SoCal qualifier because of familiarity with the greens and the awkward possibility of playing one of his teammates at the Georgia qualifier.

“I can just imagine two of us getting in a playoff and in that situation no one wins,” said Homa, who plans to maintain his amateur status through this year’s Walker Cup and play PGA Tour Q-School later this year.

PGA Tour winner Chris Riley is one of six players tied for fifth place at 4 under.