Spi­eth ac­cepts fate

‘I’m es­sen­tially out of this tour­na­ment,’ he ad­mits

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - — The As­so­ci­ated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hideki Mat­suyama never looks sat­is­fied with his shots or his score, no mat­ter how good they look.

Per­haps it will take win­ning a ma­jor to change that.

Five days af­ter the 25-yearold Ja­panese star closed with a 61 to win his sec­ond World Golf Cham­pi­onship, Mat­suyama mo­tored through a damp­ened Quail Hol­low with a 7-un­der 64 that gave him a share of the lead with Kevin Kis­ner (67) in the PGA Cham­pi­onship.

They were at 8-un­der 134, all but end­ing the hopes of Jor­dan Spi­eth to get the ca­reer Grand Slam this year.

Heavy rain that sus­pended play yes­ter­day af­ter­noon made Quail Hol­low more vul­ner­a­ble than it has been all week, only Spi­eth couldn’t take ad­van­tage. He made only one birdie, fin­ished with a bo­gey, and shot a 73 to fin­ish 11 shots out of the lead.

“I kind of ac­cept the fact that I’m es­sen­tially out of this tour­na­ment pend­ing some form of crazy stuff the next cou­ple of days,” Spi­eth said.

Kis­ner faced tougher, faster con­di­tions in the morn­ing and holed a 50-foot eagle putt from short of the green on the par-5 sev­enth hole. When his round was over, Kis­ner had a five-shot lead over the play­ers from his side of the draw.

It didn’t look as though any­one would get close.

“These guys go­ing out this af­ter­noon, they break 70, they’ve done a hell of a job,” Rory McIl­roy said af­ter a 73 that put him 10 shots back.

A light rain be­gan fall­ing not long af­ter McIl­roy’s pre­dic­tion.

Then, the storms rolled in with heavy rain that drenched the course and forced a rain de­lay of 1 hour, 43 min­utes. And when the sec­ond round re­sumed, it felt like an en­tirely dif­fer­ent golf course.

Ja­son Day, who played a four-hole stretch in 5 un­der around the turn and be­fore the storms, be­gan smash­ing driver with­out re­gard that it might run through the fair­ways and into the rough. He shot 66 and was two shots be­hind.

There were pitch marks on the putting sur­faces. There were splotches of mud of the sides of golf balls. But the big­gest dif­fer­ence was the rain took the fear out of putting on the fast, fright­en­ing greens and sent scores tum­bling.

Francesco Moli­nari also shot a 64 and was at 5-un­der 137, along with Louis World No. 1 Hideki Mat­suyama has a share of the lead af­ter turn­ing in a great Round 2 at the 2017 PGA Cham­pi­onship in Charlotte yes­ter­day. Oosthuizen, who had a 67.

Mat­suyama, fin­ish­ing his swing with one hand as tee shots found the fair­way, al­ready was play­ing great and putting even bet­ter. The storm de­lay did not stop him.

He ran off four straight birdies start­ing on No. 12 when he hit his ap­proach into 12 feet. That was the long­est of his seven birdie putts, though he also made a 20-foot par putt on the ninth hole. When the round re­sumed, Mat­suyama got up-and-down for birdie on the 15th, saved par from a bunker on the 16th and then drilled a 7-iron over the bunker to 7 feet for birdie on the par-3 17th.

He had a putt just over 12 feet for birdie on the 18th that would have tied the PGA Cham­pi­onship record of 63, but it missed to the left.

No mat­ter. He was tied go­ing into the week­end, rais­ing Ja­panese hopes of its first ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

“The greens here at Quail Hol­low, as you know, are re­ally fast. And there’s a lot of putts that hon­estly, I’m not try­ing to make,” Mat­suyama said. “I’m just try­ing to get it up near the hole, and a lot of them are go­ing in.”

His best shot was the 7-iron on No. 17. His worst shot?

“There were too many. I can’t count them all,” said the guy who shot 64. “Some­how, my worst shots were find­ing the fair­way.”

The sec­ond round was halted by dark­ness, leav­ing 26 play­ers who had to re­turn this morn­ing. That in­cluded Chris Stroud, who was 5 un­der and had five holes re­main­ing.

Kis­ner doesn’t have the length for this 7,600-yard course, but he has golf smarts, a re­li­able swing and a good putting stroke for the greens.


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