Hideki Matsuyama fired a brilliant bogey-free 64 to take a share of the lead on the weather-affected second day of the PGA Championship.
Kevin Kisner entered the day in a share of the lead at four under, and when he carded a second consecutive round of 67 to get to eight under, it seemed that he would carry a solo advantage into the weekend.
Matsuyama set about reeling him in and was two off the lead when thunderstorms in the area meant an hour and 43 minutes were lost at Quail Hollow Club.
When play resumed, the Japanese showed no ill effects, picking up two further birdies to make it five in seven holes, joining Kisner on eight under.
Australian Jason Day – the 2015 champion – was then at six under, a shot clear of Francesco Molinari and Louis Oosthuizen. American Chris Stroud was also five under, but he would have to return on Saturday morning to complete his round, having played 13 holes.
Kisner birdied the 18th on Thursday to share the lead, and he carried that momentum into round two, making gains on the tenth and 12th to move ahead. He then dropped a shot on the next, but re-established a two-shot cushion on the 15th.
Nine pars followed, but a 48-foot putt from off the seventh green brought an eagle and the 33-year-old had a commanding advantage midway through the day.
‘I’m just excited about the opportunity,’ he said. ‘I’m really fired up about the way I’m hitting the golf ball. I haven’t hit it this well this whole summer, a lot of average finishes. When I start hitting it the way I am now, I play well.
‘So I’m looking forward to the weekend and having an opportunity to keep making birdies and playing well.’
He birdied the fifth and seventh from seven and six feet and then holed from 12 feet on the 12th. Two more six-footers followed on the 13th and 14th as his stunning approach play made making birdies look easy.
After the delay, he produced a beautiful chip to set up a birdie on the 15th, and when he put his tee-shot on the 17th to seven feet, he was in a share of the lead.
‘I am playing well, but whether it’s the best that I’ve ever played in my career, I’m not sure,’ he said.
‘I don’t know if the other players should be nervous or not, but this is my first experience leading a Major or tied for the lead after 36 holes. So being a new experience, maybe I’ll be a little nervous, but on the other hand, I’m looking forward to the weekend and seeing how I do.’
The Australian bogeyed the 11th, but holed a 46-foot birdie putt on the 13th, and when he made another birdie on the 14th he was just two off the lead.
Oosthuizen was also dialled in with his approach play as he birdied the tenth, 14th and 16th, and he added another from four feet on the fourth to get to five under.
Molinari birdied the tenth, 11th, 14th and 18th to turn in 32, chipped in for eagle on the seventh and made another birdie on the eighth en route to a brilliant 64.
Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas were then at three under, a shot clear of Byeong-hun An.
Credit: European Tour website
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