Walker take two-shot lead, Spi­eth, McIl­roy in hunt

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Jimmy Walker, gear­ing up for his PGA Cham­pi­onship ti­tle de­fense, fired a five-un­der par 65 on Fri­day to take a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the World Golf Cham­pi­onships Bridge­stone in Akron, Ohio.

Walker shook off lengthy weather de­lays as thun­der­storms dis­rupted ac­tion at Fire­stone Coun­try Club. He carded six birdies with just one bo­gey en route to a 36-hole to­tal of seven-un­der 133.

Walker edged ahead of overnight leader Thomas Pi­eters of Bel­gium when he rolled in an eight footer for birdie at the 15th. Pi­eters then fell fur­ther back with a bo­gey at the par-three 15th, where he was un­able to get up and down from a bunker.

He had two birdies and two bo­geys in an even par 70 for 135. “I played de­cent,” Pi­eters said. “I hit plenty of greens-I think a bit less than yes­ter­day. The driver was still a lit­tle bit off. Ball strik­ing’s been good, same to­day. Missed a cou­ple short ones on 17 and 18, but rolling the put­ter nicely, so look­ing for­ward to this week­end.” It was a fur­ther stroke back to Rory McIl­roy, Zach John­son and Hideki Mat­suyama on 136.

McIl­roy, play­ing his first tour­na­ment since sack­ing long­time cad­die J.P. Fitzger­ald as he tries to turn around a so-far dis­ap­point­ing sea­son, chipped in for birdie at the 16th en route to a one-un­der 69 while Ja­pan’s Mat­suyama and Amer­ica’s John­son both shot 67.

“Once we got back out there af­ter the de­lay, I think ev­ery­body felt a lit­tle flat,” McIl­roy said of play­ing af­ter the af­ter­noon de­lay of more than three hours.

“I didn’t help my­self by miss­ing a few chances as soon as we came back out. Luck­ily I found one birdie com­ing in.” Aus­tralian Ja­son Day turned in a four-un­der 66 to join a group of six play­ers on 137 that also in­cluded British Open cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth, who signed for a 70.

Day had charged up the leader­board with four birdies in his first five holes and five birdies on the front nine.

But he ap­peared to tweak his trou­ble­some back, and had two bo­geys and a birdie com­ing in. Or­ga­niz­ers had moved up tee times in a bid to beat the weather and Walker, who was di­ag­nosed with de­bil­i­tat­ing Lyme Dis­ease in April, ad­mit­ted the day “did feel like a marathon”.

But he added that for him it was “a great day”. “(I) played solid, hit it well, made some putts-just solid, a solid day of golf.”

Walker, who hasn’t lifted a tro­phy since mak­ing his ma­jor break­through at last year’s PGA Cham­pi­onship, hasn’t con­tended on the big stage this year. He missed the cut at the US Open and fin­ished tied for 54th at the British Open, and said he wasn’t think­ing about his ti­tle de­fense at Quail Hol­low next week. “It’s just im­por­tant for me to have a good week,” he said. “I haven’t had too many this year, it’s been kind of rough. But things have been trending, I feel like, and hope­fully this is shades of things to come.”


AKRON: Jor­dan Spi­eth ac­knowl­edges the crowd as he walks to the 18th green dur­ing the sec­ond round of the World Golf Cham­pi­onships - Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional at Fire­stone Coun­try Club South Course on Fri­day in Akron, Ohio.

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