Aug 12th, 2017
USPGA round two wrap and highlights
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty Images Styling: GolfPunk
Have you got your money on Hideki Matsuyama? No, me neither. I didn't think someone who'd just conquered Firestone to win the Bridgestone Invitational would be bringing the same heat at the USPGA.
It hardly ever happens, right? Sandy Lyle won the Masters after winning the Shell Houston Open the previous week. But who else? Yes I am asking a question I really should be answering myself but there are very slim pickings on google when rummaging for this information. Answers on a postcode if you can help me out.
Anyway, regardless, Hideki Matsuyama shot a sensational 64 yesterday to share the halfway lead at Quail Hollow with Kevin Kisner who mirrored his first round 67. Both players sit at -8, two shots ahead of Jason Day who himself carded an impressive 66 to get to -6.
It was Jason Day who was one of the first to congratulate the Japanese star for his 61 in the final round at Firestone to win his second World Golf Championship. The text read: "Congrats, mate. Unreal playing. See you next week."
They may be seeing more of each other than they bargained for if they keep up this form.
Storms halfway through the day halted play and softened up Quail Hollow for the restart. The course was now less daunting. Matsuyama kicked off his round with a 12-foot birdie putt, the longest of his seven birdies in the second round.
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, and it didn't look like anyone would get near him.
After the storms, which created a two hour delay, the layers yet to go out were licking their lips at the prospect of getting one over this tricky course. Jordan Spieth was one of these players but he failed to take advantage. Spieth made only one birdie -- at No. 12, the fourth-toughest hole on the course -- and shot 73 to fall 11 shots behind.
"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.
Matsuyama and Kisner were at 8-under 134. Day is starting to look like the No. 1 player in the world he was for most of last year, playing a four-hole stretch around the turn in 5-under par, posting a 66 and finishing two shots out of the lead.
Francesco Molinari also shot 64 and was three shots behind, along with Louis Oosthuizen (67). The second round was halted by darkness, leaving 26 players to finish Saturday morning. That included Chris Stroud, who was 5 under and had five holes remaining.
Nicolas Colsaerts needs two birdies in his last four holes to avoid missing the cut. His compatriot Thomas Pieters had a wretched time of it, carding a triple followed by a double on 8 & 9. He eventually signed for a 77 +14 for the tournament an 9 shots over the cut line. And yes, I did have a fiver on him...
Other notables packing their bags early were Justin Rose (+6), Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Bubba Watson, Tyrrell Hatton (+7), Sergio Garcia and Matt Fitzpatrick (+8). Another player finishing at +8 was defending champion Jimmy Walker who couldn't claw his way back after a disastrous opening round 81.
But back to the top of the leader board. Interestingly, neither of the co-leaders has ever been on top of the leader board in a major. Kisner's greatest asset is his touch round the greens.
Toughened by his time on the mini-tours, and having won twice on the PGA Tour, he will not be afraid to step up: "I haven't hit it this well this whole summer," said Kis. "I've had a lot of average finishes but when I start hitting it the way I am now, I play well."
A major is all that keeps Matsuyama from being mentioned in the same class as Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Day and the rest of golf's youngest stars. A major would put Kevin Kisner in a place he can't possibly have envisaged.
He currently sits 9th in the Fed Ex and his season to date has included a win at the Dean & Deluca where he stared down Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm in the final round, and 2nd place finishes at both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Zurich Classics.
Bring on round three...