Kuchar storms past Matsuyama for Phoenix lead

- Agence France-Presse, LOS ANGELES

Feb 4, 2017-

Matt Kuchar caught fire on the back nine on Thursday, firing a seven-under 64 for a one-shot first-round lead over defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and Brendan Steele at the Phoenix Open on Thursday.

Olympic bronze medalist Kuchar opened birdie-birdie, but he did his real damage coming home with three birdies and an eagle at the par-five 13th, where he rolled in a 20-footer. He surged past Japan’s Matsuyama, who was in the clubhouse on six-under 65, where he was later joined by Steele. Kuchar is making his first start since the Hero World Challenge in December, but showed no signs of rust.

Matsuyama, meanwhile, has powered into 2017 with victories at the Japan Open and World Golf Championships HSBC Champions in October, followed by wins at the Taiheiyo Masters in November and the Hero World Challenge in December, opened the calendar year with a runner-up finish to Justin Thomas at the USPGA Tournament of Champions last month. 

He cooled off with 27th and 33rd place finishes at the Sony Open and Farmers Insurance Open. While he’s not at the level he was in October, he said, he’s hoping he can get there. Certainly Matsuyama looked sharp in picking up where he left off last year with a birdie at his opening hole, the par-four 10th.

Steele had twice gained the solo lead at seven-under, but back-to-back bogeys dropped him back to five-under before he gained a share of second with a birdie at the eighth, his penultimate hole. It was his seventh birdie in a round that also included a hole-out for eagle at 14th. South Korea’s An Byeong-Hun was among a group of five players tied for fourth on five-under 66, along with Americans John Peterson, Robert Garrigus, Scott Brown and Chris Kirk.

Published: 04-02-2017 08:37

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment