Mat­suyama, Kis­ner tied at rain-soaked Quail Hol­low

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

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 Ja­panese star closed with a 61 to win his sec­ond World Golf Cham­pi­onship, Mat­suyama, 25, 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 Fri­day af­ter­noon made Quail Hol­low more vul­ner­a­ble than it has been all week, only Spi­eth couldn’t take ad­van­tage. He made just 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.

The storms then rolled in with heavy rain that drenched the course and forced a rain de­lay of 1 hour, 43 min­utes. 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 his 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 greens. There were splotches of mud on 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 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 de­lay did not stop him.

He ran off four con­sec­u­tive birdies start­ing on No. 12 when he hit his ap­proach into 12 feet. That was the long­est of his seven birdie putt.

When play 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.”

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. He saw the changes to the course ear­lier this year on a soft, damp day and won­dered how he would man­age.

The plan was to make birdie on the par 5s and the two short par 4s, and play for par ev­ery­where else.

It has worked to near per­fec­tion through two rounds, par­tic­u­larly on the par 5s: a wedge to 10 feet on No. 10; a wedge to 5 feet on No. 15; and the eagle putt on No. 7 that rolled against the pin and dis­ap­peared.

David Ling­merth (Arkansas Ra­zor­backs) was 2 over af­ter 15 holes. John Daly (Dar­danelle, Ra­zor­backs) did not make the cut.


Sec­ond-round co-leader Hideki Mat­suyama chips to the first green Fri­day at the PGA Cham­pi­onship at Quail Hol­low Club in Charlotte, N.C. Mat­suyama shot a 7-un­der 64 and was tied with Kevin Kis­ner for the lead af­ter play was sus­pended by dark­ness.

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