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Storm stoppage halts hot runs by Day, Matsuyama at PGA

 | August 12, 2017

Matsuyama and Day had each made three consecutive birdies when play was halted, Matsuyama standing two strokes back on six-under par with Day another shot adrift. Both men opened with 70 on Thursday.

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CHARLOTTE: A thunderstorm stoppage blunted birdie runs by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Australia’s Jason Day, who charged up the leaderboard in Friday’s second round of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

American leader Kevin Kisner was in the clubhouse on eight-under par 134 for 36 holes after his second consecutive four-under 67 but Day and Matsuyama were the first players to make a charge at him in the year’s last major tournament.

Matsuyama and Day had each made three consecutive birdies when play was halted, Matsuyama standing two strokes back on six-under par with Day another shot adrift. Both men opened with 70 on Thursday.

Third-ranked Matsuyama is coming off a victory with a final-round 61 in last week’s World Golf Championships event at Akron, Ohio, while world number seven Day won his first major title at the 2015 PGA and was second last year.

Matsuyama was having a bogey-free round and started his attack with an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-4 fifth. He found a fairway bunker and greenside rough at the par-5 seventh but chipped to six feet and sank the birdie putt.

After sinking a 22-foot par putt at the ninth, Matsuyama began his birdie charge with a 12-foot putt at the par-4 12th and six-footers at the par-3 13th and par-4 14th. He had sent his tee shot into left rough at the par-5 15th when the horn sounded halting play.

Day stumbled early with a bogey at the par-4 third, but bounced back at the par-5 seventh, leaving his second shot inches from the cup for a tap-in eagle.

Then the Aussie reeled off his three consecutive birdies, sinking a five-foot putt at the par-4 eighth, an 18-footer at the par-4 ninth and a nine-footer at the par-5 10th before play was stopped.

Matsuyama could become the first Japanese man to win a major title and only the second Asian man to claim a major crown at South Korea’s Yang Yong-Eun at the 2009 PGA.

‘Kisner is on fire’

World number 25 Kisner, seeking his first major title, sank a 48-foot eagle putt at the seventh to highlight his second round.

“I’m hitting the ball really nice and things are going my way. I’m enjoying that,” Kisner said. “My bad shots are working out, my good shots are working out and I’m making putts. I’m loving playing right now.”

Kisner, a US PGA Tour winner three months ago at Colonial, shared the 18-hole lead with Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, who was four-over halfway into his second round.

“Kisner is on fire right now,” said fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, who fired a second consecutive 72. “I hope he slows down and gives the rest of us a chance.”

Growing up only a two-hour drive south of the course, Kisner has long played on the Bermuda grass intalled around much of the course ahead of hosting its first major. he knows driving accuracy is crucial.

“The ball is coming out of the gun right where I’m looking at it,” Kisner said. “The key around here is keeping the ball out of the fairway.”

Kisner sank a 10-foot birdie putt at 10, his first hole of the day. After sinking a six-foot birdie putt at 12, Kisner gave one back with a bogey on the par-3 13th.

Kisner sank a five-footer for birdie at the par-5 15th then parred the next nine holes before his dramatic eagle at seven. He closed with back-to-back pars.

Kisner, 33, endured four runner-up finishes in 2015 before a breakthrough first US PGA Tour victory at Sea Island, Georgia, in his 109th attempt.

Amazingly tough, says Rory

McIlroy made four bogeys in five holes on the front side, capped by a par putt lip-out at sixth. The 28-year-old from Northern Ireland answered with birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth.

“Anything under 71 today is a good score,” McIlroy said. “It’s amazing how they have been able to make this course so much tougher.”

US star Rickie Fowler fired a 70 to stand on 139, five off the pace. South Korean An Byeong-Hun also eagled the par-5 seventh in a round of 69 to finish on 140.

World number two Jordan Spieth, chasing his fourth career major title and completion of a career Grand Slam at age 24, was two-over after 10 holes, bogeys at the third and 10th his undoing.

Spieth, who won last month’s British Open, hit his first three shots into the trees at 10 and a fourth into the rough before getting up and down.


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