Matt Kuchar Keeps His Score Low and Smile Bright in Leading the Sony OpenJanuary 12, 2019
HONOLULU — The easygoing vibe in Hawaii is a perfect fit for Matt Kuchar, who spends as much as a month at a time on the islands when his schedule allows.
The Sony Open is more about work than play, and he is having just as much fun.
Kuchar ran off four birdies in five holes to start his second round Friday, handled the par 5s at Waialae again and finished with another round of seven-under 63 to take a one-shot lead over Andrew Putnam.
“To shoot seven under back-to-back is unexpected, but awfully excited,” Kuchar said with the smile he wears for most any occasion.
Kuchar was at 14-under 126, matching the lowest 36-hole score of his PGA Tour career. He also had a 126 in Las Vegas in 2008. Putnam, playing in the afternoon, had a bogey-free 65. Chez Reavie (65) and Stewart Cink (62) were four behind.
Jordan Spieth had a 66 and missed the cut by one shot in his 2019 debut after a long break from golf. Needing to birdie the last four holes to qualify for the weekend, he ran off two birdies, missed a 10-foot birdie putt and then narrowly missed chipping in for eagle.
“I loved the fight,” said Spieth, who is set to return in two weeks at Torrey Pines. “I feel like I was trying to win the tournament trying to make the cut, which is not something I want to get used to.”
No one probably had a more memorable round than Reavie. He holed out for eagle three times from the fairway on par-4 holes — a sand wedge from 101 yards on No. 10 at the start of his round, a 9-iron from 149 yards on No. 16, and a gap wedge from 135 yards on No. 6.
The PGA Tour began keeping hole-by-hole records in 1983, and no one had ever made three eagles in one round on par 4s since then. So odd was this round that Reavie made more eagles than birdies.
“Apparently, I need to go buy a lottery ticket today,” he said.
But Hawaii does not have a lottery, so he will have to settle for trying to figure out how to catch Kuchar.
Cink made nine birdies in his round. Marc Leishman (64) and Ted Potter Jr. (65) were at 131. Adam Svensson, the first-round leader, shot 74 and is at 135.
The 40-year-old Kuchar sometimes comes to Hawaii with his wife and two children even when he is not playing golf. He has been to five of the islands and plans to stay another few weeks after the Sony Open. He likes it better when he can play a few tournaments.
He became eligible for the winners-only field at Kapalua last week by winning at another beach resort — Mayakoba — last year, opening with rounds of 64-64, the kind of hot start he has had at Waialae.
Kuchar is clearly in a better spot than when he had gone more than three years without winning and was left off the United States Ryder Cup team for the first time in 10 years. He felt as if he was grinding too hard, and that is not a trait he wears well.
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