Kuchar leads by 2 at PGA Championship (AP)

Aug 13th, 2010 | By sportsnews | Category: Sports

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP)—The only thing clear after two days of fog-induced havoc
at the PGA Championship is that Matt Kuchar is playing very, very well.

Kuchar ran off three straight birdies on his way to a 69 Friday and, at 8
under, has the early second-round lead. But half of the field was still on the
course after fog delayed resumption of the first round by almost three hours,
and play certainly won’t be complete by sundown.

“We’ll just wait and see what happens,” Kuchar said. “They could get
lucky if the storm blows through and then they get some clear skies and some
calm conditions. But sitting around right now, it’s nice to be done.”

Simon Khan was doing his part to hold up the season’s tradition of unknowns
making a splash at the majors, matching Kuchar at 8 under with three holes to
play. Nick Watney is a stroke behind.

Bryce Molder, Kuchar’s teammate at Georgia Tech, is three strokes behind his
good friend after shooting 5-under 67. Also at 5 under are Jason Dufner (66),
19-year-old Noh Seung-yul (71), Dustin Johnson (68) , Rory McIlroy (68) and 2007
Masters champion Zach Johnson.

“This is what we practice to do,” Molder said. “To see if our game and
our practice and the work that we do off the course and on the course can pay
off.”

Phil Mickelson, who has yet another opportunity to take the world No. 1
ranking from Tiger Woods, had the makings of a great day with six birdies. But
it was undercut by a double-bogey at 18 and another bogey, and is at 2 under for
the tournament.

He also hit a fan with his tee shot on 15—though Lefty made up for it by
giving the guy a glove that he signed and wrote “Sorry” on, even putting a
frowning face inside the “o.”

Steve Stricker might have felt like that frowning guy after his tee shot on
17 landed below the par-3’s elevated green. He banged it against the embankment
not once, but twice, and wound up with a triple-bogey. He’s at even par for the
tournament.

Though the fog has made the PGA seem more like a British Open—there was
rain Friday afternoon, too—Kuchar was proof that decent scores were available
on the 7,514-yard, links-style monster. Maybe that was a good sign for Tiger
Woods, who finished his first round at an encouraging 1-under 71 and had to wait
until dinnertime to begin a second round he certainly wouldn’t complete by
sundown.

Bubba Watson and Francesco Molinari, whose 68s gave them the clubhouse lead
before the first round was suspended for darkness Thursday night, also had late
tee times Friday.

“I’m very pleased with the way I’ve been playing. It’s been a great year,”
said Kuchar, who has eight top 10s, including a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open.
“Not too much trouble to report. I’m putting well, staying out of trouble and I
find myself at 8 under par.”

He’s hit 23 of 28 fairways through the first two rounds, and needed only 52
putts.

The back nine has been more forgiving than the front, playing about a stroke
easier, and Kuchar took full advantage.

He was just over the green in two on No. 11, at 618 yards the longest par-5
on the course, and chipped within 2 feet for the first of three straight
birdies.

“Those were the downwind holes,” Kuchar said. “I knew that those were the
holes, if I was going to take advantage, those were going to be them.”

His only trouble of the day came on No. 6, when he hooked his tee shot left
and the ball bounced on a path trampled down by spectators and rolled down a
hill before finally coming to a stop on a service road. Kuchar took relief—if
you can call it that. His ball was on a slope so steep he couldn’t even see the
green, but he actually had a chance to save par, leaving his putt a few feet
short.

“It seems like now, the position I’ve put myself in this year, the logical
next step would be to win,” said Kuchar, whose victory at Turning Stone last
year was only his second on the PGA Tour and first since 2002. “To win, there’s
definitely an element of luck involved in winning. You just can’t control
everything out there. So we came to the conclusion that the best way to approach
a week is to give yourself a chance Sunday, and if fate is on your side, you
find yourself in the winner’s circle.”

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