Vet­eran Kuchar fires back-to-back 63s to lead Sony Open

‘Just two great days. To shoot 7-un­der back-to-back is un­ex­pected, but cer­tainly aw­fully ex­cit­ing’

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Amer­i­can Matt Kuchar used a hot start to shoot his sec­ond­straight 63 and grab the half­way stage lead Fri­day at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open by one stroke over An­drew Put­nam.

Kuchar made birdie on his first three holes then closed with his sixth birdie of the day to move to 14-un­der 126 at the Wa­ialae Coun­try Club course.

The 40-year-old is aim­ing for his sec­ond win in three starts on the Tour af­ter claim­ing the Mayakoba Golf Clas­sic ear­lier this sea­son. Win­ning the Mayakoba ended a long win­less drought that stretched back to 2014.

“Just two great days. To shoot seven-un­der back-to-back is un­ex­pected, but cer­tainly aw­fully ex­cit­ing,” said Kuchar, who fin­ished his front nine by mak­ing an ea­gle on the par-five hole.

Kuchar is one shot clear of Put­nam who fired a five-un­der 65 and four strokes ahead of Ste­wart Cink and Chez Reavie who shot 62 and 65 re­spec­tively in the Tour’s first full-field event of 2019. Kuchar has been one of the most con­sis­tent play­ers on the Tour over the past few years, fin­ish­ing in the top 20 in FedEx Cup stand­ings in 2017, 2016 and 2015. Last sea­son, he slipped to 76th, his worst re­sult since be­ing 116th in 2008.

He said get­ting an early win in the new sea­son gives him added con­fi­dence.

“Last year I prob­a­bly ground harder than I’ve done in the past,” he said. “I was on the out­side of a cou­ple of things and felt like I hadn’t been used to be­ing in that sit­u­a­tion.

“So now be­ing in good shape it’s cer­tainly a nice place to be.”

Kuchar has won just twice in the dozen times he has held the 36-hole lead, but he feels with the way he is play­ing that he can add to his birdie count.

“I love the golf course. It’s a chal­leng­ing one. If you play well you can make birdies,” Kuchar said.

First round leader Adam Svens­son of Canada made the cut de­spite shoot­ing 13 shots worse on Fri­day fol­low­ing his open­ing round of 61. The Tour rookie is tied for 20th with a five-un­der 135 to­tal.

For­mer ma­jor cham­pi­onship win­ners Jor­dan Spi­eth and Zach John­son missed the cut by one stroke Fri­day. Spi­eth, who was mak­ing his 2019 de­but, shot a 66 and John­son had a 68 as they fin­ished with a one-un­der 139 to­tal.

South African na­tive Rory Sab­ba­tini played his first event un­der the Slo­vakian flag and shot a sec­ond round 67 to move to five-un­der over­all, nine shots adrift of Kuchar.

Sab­ba­tini, whose wife is from Slo­vakia, be­came a nat­u­ralised cit­i­zen last week and hopes to play for that coun­try in the 2020 Olympics in Ja­pan.

Pe­ter Jung, who qual­i­fied by win­ning an am­a­teur tour­na­ment, played in his first PGA Tour event. The 16-year-old Amer­i­can placed last af­ter shoot­ing rounds of 84 and 78.

LEAD­ING SEC­OND-ROUND SCORES

126-Matt Kuchar 63-63 127-An­drew Put­nam 62-65 130-Chez Reavie 65-65, Ste­wart Cink 68-62

131-Ted Pot­ter 66-65, Marc Leish­man (AUS) 67-64

132-Hud­son Swaf­ford 65-67, Shugo Imahira (JPN) 65-67 133-Keith Mitchell 68-65, Kee­gan Bradley 68-65, Se­bas­tian Munoz (COL) 68-65

134-Ryan Blaum 68-66, Scott Brown 68-66, Cameron Smith (AUS) 66- 68, Ju­lian Etu­lain (ARG) 67-67, J.T. Pos­ton 68-66, Abra­ham Ancer (IND) 68-66, Pa­trick Reed 68-66, Roger Sloan (CAN) 69-65.

(AFP)

Matt Kuchar of the United States plays a shot on the third hole dur­ing the sec­ond round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Wa­ialae Coun­try Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Fri­day.

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