CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, (Reuters) – Hideki Matsuyama charged into position to become the first Japanese man to win a major after joining Kevin Kisner in the second-round lead on eight-under-par at the PGA Championship on Friday.
Matsuyama took advantage of greens softened by an afternoon storm, reeling off five birdies in a six-hole stretch with a series of pinpoint approach shots to card a seven-under-par 64, a course record in light of the redesign of Quail Hollow before the championship.
He and American Kisner, who earlier fired a near-flawless 67, are two strokes ahead of Australian Jason Day (66), back in form after a recent flat patch.
“I was grateful for the rain delay because I was getting tired. I was able to lay down in the locker room and get some rest,” world number three Matsuyama said. “I think what was making me tired was I wasn’t hitting my driver like I wanted to. I was hitting fairways but I wasn’t getting the crisp contact that I was hoping for with my driver.”
Matsuyama, the pressure of an entire country on his shoulders, said he did not know whether he would be nervous over the weekend.
“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.”
Further back, the hopes of championship favourite Rory McIlroy and grand slam seeker Jordan Spieth are hanging by a thread, 10 and 11 strokes behind respectively.