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Korean sophomore Kim Seong-hyeon 4 back after opening round at US Open

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 Korean sophomore Kim Seong-hyeon tees off during the fourth round of the U.S. Open in Napa county, California, Sep. 18. Yonhap

Korean sophomore Kim Seong-hyeon tees off during the fourth round of the U.S. Open in Napa county, California, Sep. 18. Yonhap

Korean sophomore Kim Seong-hyeon sits four strokes off the opening-round lead at the U.S. Open.

Kim shot one-under 69 to sit in a six-way tie for ninth place after the first round of the men's third major tournament of the season at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina, on Thursday (local time). Kim had three birdies and two bogeys on the par-70, 7,548-yard track.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Patrick Cantlay of the United States are tied for the lead after shooting 65s.

Kim is the top Korean player among a half-dozen in the field this week. Kim Si-woo and Tom Kim are tied for 34th after each shooting a 71.

Im Sung-jae, An Byeong-hun and Kang Sung-hoon all shot 74s — Im and Kang with two birdies against six bogeys, and An with four bogeys.

The U.S. Open also serves as the last opportunity for golfers to get into the Paris Olympics. The 60-man field for the Olympic tournament in Paris will be determined based on the world rankings after Sunday's final round.

A country can send up to four golfers if they are all ranked in the top 15 and a maximum of two players if they are positioned outside the top 15.

After the top 15, the remaining spots will go to the highest-ranked players from countries that don't already have at least two golfers qualified. Each nation can have a maximum of two players in this scenario.

Korea currently doesn't have a top-15 player. Tom Kim is the highest-ranked Korean at No. 22, with An right behind him at No. 23.

Im is next at No. 30 and will have his work cut out for him to catch An after shooting 74 on Thursday.

An competed at the 2016 Olympics and finished tied for 11th, while Im ended in a tie for 22nd at the next Olympics in 2021. Tom Kim is on the verge of making his Olympic debut in August at age 22. (Yonhap)



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