Fairways And Roughs Title

Matsuyama battles on at Quail Hollow

By PGA Tour News
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Hideki Matsuyama was surprised when a rain delay disrupted his hot play on Quail Hollow’s back nine. But he welcomed this interruption, even if it threatened his momentum. “I was grateful for the rain delay because I was getting tired,” Matsuyama said. “I was able to lay down in the locker room and get some rest.” August’s heat and humidity wasn’t the cause of his fatigue. No, it was his play. “I think what was making me tired was I wasn't hitting my driver like I wanted to,” Matsuyama said. “I was hitting fairways but I wasn't getting the crisp contact that I was hoping for with my driver.” These are the words of someone who just shot a bogey-free 64, the low round of the week, to share the lead at the PGA Championship. Matsuyama, though, is known for his high standards, and even Friday’s round couldn’t meet them. He had no problem choosing Friday’s best shot. It was an 8-iron to 7 feet on the par-3 17th hole that set up his fifth birdie in six holes. As for his worst? “There were too many. I can't count them all,” he said. “Somehow, my worst shots were finding the fairway.” Matsuyama is one of the PGA TOUR’s best ball-strikers, but he’s seemingly never satisfied with how he’s hitting the ball. His one-handed follow-throughs and disgusted demeanor that precede his ball landing close to the hole have become the subject of Internet satire. At 8-under 136, Matsuyama shares the PGA Championship’s 36-hole lead with Kevin Kisner. They were two strokes ahead of Jason Day (70-66) when the second round was suspended by darkness after the afternoon’s rain delay. Matsuyama, 25, is trying to become the first player from Japan to win a major. He’s already won three times this season, including Sunday’s victory at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, and is the FedExCup leader. His final-round 61 was his second-best putting round of the season, according to strokes gained: putting. He switch to a new putter, a TaylorMade TP Mullen, at last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Matsuyama also won this season’s WGC-HSBC Champions (by seven) and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. His strong ball-striking sets up best for the major championships, where conditions are toughest. He’s finished in the top 15 of the year’s first three majors, including a career-best T2 at the U.S. Open. Matsuyama needed just 23 putts Friday, tying his personal record for fewest putts in a round. His +4.5 strokes gained: putting also is the top single-round mark of his career (Note: Strokes Gained statistics not official until round’s end). “Twenty-three putts just means I missed a lot of greens,” Matsuyama said. He missed six greens, to be exact, and five fairways Friday. But his iron shots that did find the green were close to the hole. He only had to make two putts longer than 8 feet Friday, a 22-footer for par on No. 9 and an 11-footer for birdie on the 12th hole. Matsuyama has been one of the TOUR’s best ball-strikers since turning pro in 2013. It his putting that determines his fate. A hot putter helped him post four wins and two-runners-up in a six-tournament span that ended with the SBS Tournament of Champions in January. His performance on the greens cooled after that, but has picked up again recently. “I wish I knew (why),” he said. “The greens here at Quail Hollow, as you know, are really fast. And there's a lot of putts that honestly, I'm not trying to make. I'm just trying to get it up near the hole, and a lot of them are going in.”

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