A month after securing an historic victory at the Masters Tournament, Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama continued his impressive showing in the Season of Championships, firing a 3-under 68 at the PGA Championship to move ominously into a tie for fourth on Kiawah Island.
The 29-year-old sits just two back of 36-hole co-leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Phil Mickelson as he makes a bold bid to win consecutive majors championships. South Africa’s Oosthuizen was 6-under and in sole possession of the lead until his lone bogey dropped him into the two-way tie, while the 50-year-old Mickelson was the story of the day with his morning 69.
Korean star Sungjae Im continued his own impressive showing at the Ocean Course with a solid level-par 72 and he will enter the weekend in a share of seventh alongside 18-hole leader Corey Conners and three others. The 23-year-old Presidents Cup International Team star posted matching 36s on both nines, as birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-4 14 offset bogeys at Nos. 3 and 14.
Matsuyama, the first Japanese male golfer to win a major, was even-par for the day until making his move at the par-4 sixth, posting the first of five birdies over his next eight holes. He followed it up with another on the ensuing par-5, then made his surge up the leaderboard after making the turn, carding birdies on three of the first four holes.
After entering the day in a share of 41st place, the six-time PGA TOUR winner found himself just two back of the leader Oosthuizen entering the toughest stretch on the course. He managed to save par at the 15th after hitting his 4-iron into the left bunker but wasn’t so lucky at the last, when he failed to get up and down, settling for bogey. He enters Saturday at 3-under 141 alongside South Africans Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
“I really hit my driver and second shots very well today, and that gave me a lot of birdie opportunities, which I was able to capitalize on,” said Matsuyama after his round. “It looks like you have to accumulate a lot of birdies, as many as you can, until you get to 14, 15. Those last four or five holes are very difficult. Being able to make birdies on those downwind holes makes it a whole lot easier because you're not under the pressure. You can lose a stroke here or there on the final holes.”
In April, Matsuyama produced a glorious one-stroke victory over Will Zalatoris to win his first major championship which sparked tributes and adoration from across the world. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award which he received last month from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga while at home after the Masters.
At Augusta National, Matsuyama was three shots off the lead after two rounds and he finds himself one shot closer to the lead this time around. However, with swirling winds making life difficult this week on what is proving to be a demanding golf course, Matsuyama knows he needs to keep his head down and keep grinding.
“Yeah, it's up to the weather what's going to happen between the morning wave and afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. However, hopefully my play today will carry over to the weekend,” said Matsuyama, who is only one of two male Asian golfers to win a major.
Korean Byeong Hun An rounded out the list of Asian players advancing to the weekend, as a second-round 75 was enough to finish at 4-over, one shot clear of the cut line. Recent PGA TOUR winners Si Woo Kim and K.H. Lee both missed the cut, as did Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Japan’s Takumi Kanaya. 2009 PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
2021 PGA Championship
(34th of 50 events in the 2020-21 PGA TOUR Season)
Kiawah Island, South Carolina May 20-23, 2021 FedExCup Points: 600 (winner)
Ocean Course at Kiawah Par/Yards: 36-36—72/7,876 Purse: TBD
Second-Round Notes – Friday, May 21, 2021
Weather: Mostly sunny. High of 77. Wind E 15-20 mph, with gusts to 25 mph.
Cut: 81 players at 5-over 149 from a field of 156
Phil Mickelson 70-69—139 (-5)
Louis Oosthuizen 71-68—139 (-5)
Brooks Koepka 69-71—140 (-4)
Branden Grace 70-71—141 (-3)
Christian Bezuidenhout 71-70—141 (-3)
Hideki Matsuyama 73-68—141 (-3)
Things to Know
- Four of the six players in the top five of the leaderboard have major wins: Phil Mickelson (5), Brooks Koepka (4), Louis Oosthuizen (1), Hideki Matsuyama (1)
- Phil Mickelson is the first player age 50 or older to lead a major since Fred Couples (52) at the 2012 Masters (R2)
- Brooks Koepka seeks third PGA Championship win and fifth major title
- Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama is two shots off the lead; the last player to win multiple majors in the same season: Brooks Koepka/2018 U.S. Open, PGA Championship
- Three of the top-four players in the Official World Golf Ranking miss the cut: Dustin Johnson (1), Justin Thomas (2), Xander Schauffele (4)
- There are no bogey-free rounds through 36 holes
Phil Mickelson (T1/-5)
Seeks sixth major title and second PGA Championship win (2013 Open Championship, 2010 Masters Tournament, 2006 Masters Tournament, 2005 PGA Championship, 2004 Masters Tournament)
- Opens 70-69, the 19th major championship he has carded scores of 70 or better in the first and second rounds; he won (2005 PGA Championship) or finished runner-up (8, most recent: 2016 Open Championship) in nine of previous 18 instances; he last opened with sub-70 scores at the 2020 Masters (69-70) before finishing T55
- 2005 PGA Championship winner seeks to become oldest major winner and first player to win a major after age 50 (oldest major winner: 48 years, 4 months, 18 days/Julius Boros/1968 PGA Championship)
- Marks 36th lead/co-lead after 36 holes on the PGA TOUR; converted 18-of-35 to victory (most recent: 2019 A&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am)
- Marks 23rd lead/co-lead after any round of a major (most recent: 2016 Open Championship/R2/finished runner-up)
- Becomes the first player age 50 or older to be inside the top five on the leaderboard through 36 holes at the PGA Championship since 1999 (Hale Irwin/50)
- Becomes the sixth player since 1900 to lead/co-lead after any round of a major in four different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s); others: Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd)
- Becomes the second player since 1958 when the PGA Championship went to stroke play to lead/co-lead after 36 holes at the age of 50 years or older (54/1966/Sam Snead)
- Last player age 50 or older to lead/co-lead after any round of a major: Fred Couples/2012 Masters/R2
- Leads the field with 12 birdies through 36 holes
- Marks his 38th round in the 60s at the PGA Championship, second-most all-time by a player (41/Jack Nicklaus)
- Does not have a top-10 on the PGA TOUR since the 2020 World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (T2), a span of 16 starts
- 44-time PGA TOUR winner has not won since 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Louis Oosthuizen (T1/-5)
Seeks second major title (2010 Open Championship)
- Marks fourth 36-hole lead/co-lead on TOUR
Oosthuizen 36-Hole Lead/Co-Lead
- Making 49th major start; has one win (2010 Open Championship), four runner-ups and eight top-10s in 48 previous major starts
- Has four top-10s in 13 starts on TOUR this season, including two in his last two TOUR starts; lost in a playoff with teammate Charl Schwartzel at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and finished T8 at the Valspar Championship
- Has 14 worldwide wins (most recent: 2018 South African Open)
Brooks Koepka (2nd/-4)
Seeks fifth major title and third at the PGA Championship (2017 U.S. Open, 2018 U.S. Open, 2018 PGA Championship, 2019 PGA Championship)
- Has ranked T4 or better after 12 of his last 13 rounds in the PGA Championship
- Eagled Nos. 7 and 11, marking the first time in 104 major rounds (28 starts) he has recorded multiple eagles in a round; one of two players with two eagles in a round through 36 holes (other: Patrick Cantlay/R1)
- Seeks third PGA Championship title to become sixth player with three or more wins in the event; 5/Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, 4/Tiger Woods, 3/Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead
- Earned eighth PGA TOUR title earlier this season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open; four total top-10s in 11 starts on the season
- Entered the week with missed cuts in each of his last two starts on TOUR (Masters Tournament, AT&T Byron Nelson), his only starts since March 1 (right knee injury)
Additional Player Notes
- Dustin Johnson misses the cut (76-74); marks second missed cut in a major this season (2021 Masters Tournament) the first time in his career he has missed the cut at two majors in the same season; becomes first World No. 1 to miss consecutive major cuts since Greg Norman (1997)
- Defending champion Collin Morikawa posts rounds of 70-75 to sit T25
- Reigning Open Championship winner Shane Lowry (T19) leads the field in Scrambling (12 of 15)
- First-round leader Corey Conners posts a 3-over 75 to sit T7
Toughest Hole Easiest Hole
R1: Par-3 17th (3.503) Par-5 7th (4.406)
R2: Par-3 17th (3.682) Par 5 7th (4.597)
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
R1: 36.858 37.923 74.781 -
R2: 37.130 38.519 75.519 76.149
R1 (0): None
R2: (0): None
Phot Credit: Getty Images