CHARLOTTE: Chris Stroud sank an 11-foot birdie putt at the par-5 seventh hole to move within two strokes of co-leaders Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Kisner as the second round of the PGA Championship concluded Saturday morning. The 35-year-old American was among 25 players unable to finish the second round Friday at Quail Hollow because of a thunderstorm delay, the back-nine starter closing with four pars and the birdie to fire a second-round 68, three-under par. Third-ranked Matsuyama, trying to become the first Japanese man to win a major title, and 25th-ranked American Kisner, who won his second US tour title in May at Colonial, still shared the second-round lead on eight-under par 134.
“This is my first experience leading a major, or tied for the lead after 36 holes,” Matsuyama said. “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.” But Stroud, the final qualifier for the PGA after winning a US tour event last week, matched Australia’s seventh-ranked Jason Day for third on 136 with his early morning effort.
Stroud, ranked 203rd, resumed in the greenside rough at the par-4 fifth hole, chipped to seven feet and sank the par putt. He missed the green at the par-3 sixth but chipped to three feet and parred again. After his birdie at seven, Stroud gave himself a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 eighth but missed and tapped in for par, then closed with another tap-in par at nine.
“I’m going to just enjoy it and not let it get me distracted,” Stroud said after the round. Stroud is playing his first major since the 2014 PGA, only the ninth major of his career and just the third in which he made the cut, which saw 75 players reach the third round, to be played later Saturday in threesomes. Last weekend’s other big winner was Matsuyama, who fired a closing 61 to capture the World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio, and serve notice he was ready to challenge for a major title after a US Open runner-up effort in June.
“I’m riding the momentum from the round that I had on Sunday,” Matusyama said after completing a second-round 64. “Hopefully I can keep that going for 36 more holes.” At stake in the year’s final major tournament is the Wanamaker trophy and a top prize of $1.89 million (1.59 million euros). Day raced to a 66 on Friday, completing his round just before darkness fell. Day, who won the 2015 PGA and finished second last year, sees Matsuyama as a major threat. “He’s working hard. And I feel like he’s the hardest worker out here right now, just because he wants to win,” said Day. “And there’s no surprise that he’s obviously won last week and he’s up here again.”
Spieth: ‘Nothing to lose’: Italy’s Francesco Molinari and South African Louis Oosthuizen shared fifth on 137, three strokes off the pace, with England’s Paul Casey and Americans Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas sharing seventh on 139. Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy shared 29th on 144, 10 strokes adrift but hopeful of a weekend fightback. “If I shoot two 67s over the weekend, I’m going to have a really good chance,” McIlroy said. World number two Jordan Spieth, who captured his third career major at last month’s British Open, shared 44th on 145, 11 strokes off the pace, and figures his chances to become the youngest to complete a career Grand Slam this week are over. “On to the weekend to try and fire at stuff. Nothing to lose,” Spieth said. “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.”
Published in Daily Times, August 13th 2017.