Just five days after posting a stunning 61 to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Hideki Matsuyama finds himself sharing the 36-hole lead at the PGA Championship after yet another low round.
The Japanese 25-year-old, seeking his seventh win in his last 21 worldwide starts, carded a flawless seven-under 64 to lie eight-under after two rounds and in a share of the lead with American Kevin Kisner.
Jason Day, the 2015 champion, is two shots further adrift after a 66, with Francesco Molinari on five-under after a 64 of his own. The Italian is joined on that mark by 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Chris Stroud. The American, who won his first PGA Tour title last Sunday at the Barracuda Championship, is making just his ninth major start but finds himself within three shots of the halfway lead with five holes of his second round still to complete.
Play had been suspended for almost two hours due to potentially ‘dangerous weather’, leaving several players having to complete their rounds today before round three can begin. Play in scheduled to resume today at 12.30pm.
Matusyama: The man to beat?
Japanese ace Matsuyama is in the form of his life and he demonstrated that again on Quail Hollow’s back nine in round two, carding five birdies in a blistering six-hole stretch between the 12th and the 17th.
The current world No.2 is most certainly tracking towards his first major championship, with six top tens in his last 18 starts in the game’s four marquee events. Tied second in the US Open at Erin Hills two months ago and fourth in the PGA last year, is this the weekend he provides Asia with just its second men’s major champion?
What about Rory?
Heavily fancied by many, including our own Michael McEwan, to seal his fifth major championship this week, Rory McIlroy now looks likely to make it three straight calendar years without a major victory.
The Northern Irishman laboured to a second consecutive 72 to lie ten shots off the pace set by Matusyama and Kisner. Still, if he’s looking for any consolation, that’s a shot better than Open champion and career grand slam chaser Jordan Spieth. It looks as though McIlroy will get another opportunity to complete his set at the Masters before Spieth has another shot at winning the PGA.
What they said
Hideki Matsuyama: “I'm probably not playing as well as I did at the end of last year. However, I'm riding the momentum from the round that I had on Sunday, and again, hopefully I can keep that going for 36 more holes. I don't know if the other players should be nervous or not, but this is my first experience leading a major, or tied for the lead after 36 holes. And so being a new experience, maybe I'll be a little nervous, but on the other hand, I'm looking forward to the weekend and seeing how I do.”
Kevin Kisner: “I'm just excited about the opportunity. I'm really fired up about it the way I'm hitting the golf ball. I haven't hit it this well this whole summer. A lot of averages finishes. When I start hitting it the way I am now, I play well. So I'm looking forward to the weekend and having an opportunity to keep making birdies and playing well.”
Jason Day: “My driving and putting has been lagging behind, but I've been working very, very, very hard and I was in this current plateau of not really doing good in either, but I was just waiting for it to just jump up, which it did today.”
Rory McIlroy: “This is not the Quail Hollow we have gotten to know over the last ten years. It's a completely different golf course. If I shoot two 67s over the weekend, I'm going to have a really good chance.”
Missing the cut
Justin Rose, +6
Luke Donald, +7
Martin Laird, +7
Graeme McDowell, +7
Rafa Cabrera Bello, +7
Bubba Watson, +7
Jimmy Walker (defending champion), +8
Russell Knox, +8
Ernie Els, +8
Sergio Garcia, +8
Phil Mickelson, +11 (first time Phil has missed the cut in the PGA since 1995)
Moment of the round
Even when he’s bad, Rory McIlroy is unmissable as this visit to a seldom-seen part of the golf course demonstrated...
Let’s hear for Steve Stricker. At the age of 50, the American posted a one-under round of 70 to make the cut for the 26th major on the spin.