South Korean Whee Kim grabs lead at Mylan Classic


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Blayne Barber was supposed to be two shots back of Whee Kim atop the leader board Friday at the Mylan Classic, but Barber was disqualified for signing an incorrect card.

Kim shot a 6-under 65 at Southpointe Golf Club in Cannonsburg to take the lead at 11 under after two rounds. Barber shot 66 to tie Ben Martin in second at 9 under, but after fielding questions from media, he noticed something didn't seem right with his score.

Barber had just told reporters the story of how he disqualified himself from qualifying school in 2012 for thinking he might have assessed himself an incorrect penalty almost a week after he played a hole.

The golf world celebrated him as a model citizen, upholding himself to the code of the game when he could have profited from saying nothing -- or in his case, not calling the rules committee later to discuss if the penalty he gave himself for hitting a leaf on his backswing in a bunker should have been one stroke or two.

He got calls and texts from pros on the PGA Tour and foreign television stations did segments on him when he played in their country. He was three months from his wedding when he disqualified himself and set back his career. But he said he hasn't regretted his decision since, knowing in his heart he did the right thing.

And after he left the media room Friday at Southpointe, it happened again.

Barber checked his score online as soon as he left the media room and then went to discuss the issue with a rules official, who eventually disqualified him.

Barber had signed for a 3 on the 16th hole when he actually had 4.

"I looked it over and I didn't see it," Barber said later, through a tournament official. "[The walking scorer] said 33-33-66, and I said that's correct. Somehow I missed that one on 16. When I saw it online, I thought something was wrong."

The scores of 33 were technically correct, but the individual hole score was wrong, and that's the one that counts. Barber is ultimately responsible for his card. Once he signs it and leaves the scoring area, that's what he's vouching is correct. A tournament spokesman said if Barber had not realized the mistake and asked about it, tournament officials would've noticed it minutes later.

"Not only did I miss it but he missed it, too, we both missed it," Barber said. "It's unfortunate because it could've been corrected. I know it sounds careless, and to be honest I don't know what emotions I'm going through right now."

Instead, Kim will have one fewer contender to deal with this weekend, and he might be the only player rooting for another windy day on the course.

That's because the conditions at Southpointe Friday gave Kim, a native of Seoul, South Korea, an unexpected taste of home.

"I like windy day. I like slopey course, because I have lot of experience in Korea," Kim said. "All of Korea golf courses have big slopes -- up, down, up, down. Because all of golf courses are on the mountain, and they're windy, lots of trees. I've experienced a lot like this course, so I [have] very much confidence for this course."

First-round leader Zach Sucher shot an even-par 70 and dropped back to a tie for eighth. The cut was 1-over 143, which eliminated Web.com Tour money leader Michael Putnam.

They're all chasing Kim, who's comfortable as could be.

The course "feels like [Korea]," he said. "It's similar, just different grass.

Kim, 21, was also terrific on the greens, putting just 21 times in his round. He one-putted 13 holes.

"I just try to hit the green -- middle of the green," he said. "I never try right side or left side of the green. I just aim it center of the green and then try to putt. Two putts, good; one-putt, better.

Andres Echavarria went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie on his final five holes to match the tournament nine-hole record of 29 but didn't make the cut.

Steve Wheatcroft, born in Indiana, Pa., was tied with Kim at 5 under at the start of the second round but shot 70 to fall back to a tie for eighth.

"Just couldn't make any birdie putts when I had them close," Wheatcroft said. "I had a good look on 11, 12, 13 ..."

He suffered a heel injury an on the back nine but saved his round by closing with birdies on 17 and 18.

Storms are expected today and tee times have been moved up to 8:45 a.m. But if conditions are less than ideal on an already soft course, Kim will be ready.

"I still like windy days -- better than calm days, for me," Kim said.

Really?

"Yes," he chuckled, "just for me."

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Nick Veronica: nveronica@post-gazette.com and Twitter @NickVeronica.


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