CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – Hideki Matsuyama joined Kevin Kisner in the second-round lead as day turned to night and the PGA Championship turned into a sprint on Friday.
Japanese Matsuyama took advantage of greens softened by an afternoon storm, reeling off five birdies in a six-hole stretch to card seven-under-par 64, a course record in light of the re-design of Quail Hollow before the championship.
Seeking to become the first Japanese man to win a major, Matsuyama joined American Kisner, who earlier fired a near-flawless 67, at eight-under 134, two strokes ahead of Australian Jason Day (66).
Day ran down the final fairway to finish before darkness completely enveloped the course, the result of the earlier nearly two-hour stoppage.
Fellow Australian Rod Pampling, destined to miss the cut, took one for the team by running to the final tee and hurriedly swiping a ball into the trees before the horn sounded to halt play for the day.
Kisner was long gone by then after his morning round.
The American, who started at the 10th hole, used his ‘Texas wedge’ from off the green to sink a 47-foot putt at the par-five seventh — his 16th hole — and vault clear of the field, at least for a while.
The 33-year-old from South Carolina has won twice on the PGA Tour, and has also lost four times in playoffs.
Kisner’s sizzling performance is the result of recent hard work tweaking his swing.
“I’ve always fought a push to the right and got sick and tired of it,” he said. “Hitting fairways are key.
“I’m hitting the ball really nice and things are going my way. The bad shots are working out and the good shots are working out and I’m making a lot of putts.”
Championship favorite Rory McIlroy and grand slam seeker Jordan Spieth found it tough going, 10 and 11 strokes behind respectively.
“If anything the greens were a little firmer than yesterday and some of the pin positions today are really tough,” McIlroy said after a second straight 72.
“Obviously Kisner is on fire. Hopefully he slows down a little bit and gives the rest of us a chance but I still feel I’m there.”
Spieth failed to take advantage of the easier afternoon conditions, making just one birdie in a 73, his hopes of becoming at 24 the youngest player to complete the career grand slam all but gone.
The second round will resume on Saturday at 7.30 a.m. local time (1130 GMT). American Chris Stroud is best placed among those yet to complete the round, five-under with five holes left.
Reporting by Andrew Both; editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford