Tom Kim clings to a 1-shot lead over Scheffler and Bhatia in rain-delayed Travelers

Tom Kim has made just enough birdies to keep in front at the rain-softened Travelers Championship

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CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Tom Kim made enough birdies on a soft, vulnerable course to stay in front Saturday in the rain-delayed Travelers Championship, getting up-and-down for par on the last hole in near darkness for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead over Scottie Scheffler and Akshay Bhatia.

The tone of this pitch-and-putt day at the TPC River Highlands was set long before thunderstorms halted play for nearly three hours. Cameron Young shot 59, the 13th sub-60 round on the PGA Tour and first in nearly four years.

And then the rain made it even softer, and the wind subsided late in the evening as Kim, Scheffler and Xander Schauffele raced to beat darkness.

Scheffler, the world's No. 1 player coming off a rare pedestrian performance at the U.S. Open, was slowed by a pair of soft bogeys — his putter from fringe on No. 11, a bad drive into mangled weeds on No. 14 — and answered with four straight birdies.

“I was pretty frustrated after that bogey on 14, felt like I was putting myself out of the tournament,” Scheffler said. “So it was nice to bounce back and finish it the way I did.”

His wedge on the 18th rolled back within an inch of the cup, which he tapped in for 64. He played with Bhatia, who has two PGA Tour titles in the last 12 months. He poured in a 25-foot birdie putt to match Scheffler at 64.

Schauffele played bogey-free until the final hole when his 3-foot par putt horseshoed around the cup and left him with a 64. He was two shots back along with Sungjae Im, who made a birdie putt from some 40 feet on the final hole.

Kim, who turned 22 on Friday, is still leading a large cast of All-Stars. He was at 18-under 192 going into the final round in which 10 players were within five shots of the lead.

“It’s a stacked leaderboard," Kim said. "Out here, a five-, six-shot lead is not safe at all. So I've got to go out tomorrow and do the same game plan and execute.”

The group within five shots includes Young, who was tied for 43rd when he arrived at the course in the morning. He was 5 under through four holes — he holed out with a wedge from 142 yards on No. 3 — made another eagle on the 280-yard 15th hole with a 3-iron to 4 feet and got to 11 under with a 5-foot birdie on the 17th.

He was tied when he walked off the course and still in the mix when the round finally ended. Young didn't see this kind of round coming.

“Did exactly what I do every day coming to the golf course — get a coffee, ate, saw the physio, and went out there, warmed up,” he said. “Didn’t feel particularly awesome. I chunked a few less on the range than I did yesterday. Then, yeah, came out and just was very comfortable and things just started coming down close to the hole.”

Tee times for Sunday have been moved forward because of more storms in the forecast, meaning the course isn't likely to get any tougher. Preferred lies were in effect for the second consecutive round.

“Feels like more than ever you’re going to have to keep your head down," Schauffele said. "It's kind of been my motto — ‘Stay in my lane’ — for quite some time, and I think tomorrow it's going to hold pretty true. You can get on a run at any point on this golf course.

“(You) definitely have to earn your birdies,” he said. “But I think they’re going to be coming in bunches tomorrow.”

Five players had at least a share of the lead at some point, some of that made possible by Kim's lone mistake. He three-putted from 10 feet on the fourth hole, his 3-foot par putt not even touching the hole. But he bounced back with three birdies on the par 3s and a tough chip across the 15th green to set up an easy birdie.

He went from the fairway bunker to short of the 18th green, and his pitched rolled out to a short range for his final par to stay in front.

The final signature event of the PGA Tour season certainly looks like one with quality of players chasing — from Scheffler and Schauffele, down to Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas.

“You're not going to separate yourself. Someone is going to play one shot better than anyone else,” Bhatia said. “We'll see what tomorrow entails. It's just going to be a good challenge.”

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