A hot start to the second round sent Matt Kuchar on his way to a one-shot lead at the midpoint of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Friday.
Starting on the back nine, Kuchar ran off three consecutive birdies and made it four in five holes en route to his second consecutive 7-under-par 63 at Waialae in Honolulu. He sits at 14-under 126 through two rounds, with Andrew Putnam in second at 13 under after a 65 on Friday.
Kuchar has New Hampshire ties. His grandfather, Maurice Kuchar, starred in football at Manchester Central and UNH. Matt Kuchar vacationed in the Granite State as a kid.
“I think yesterday was a little bit cleaner, but today, I took advantage early,” Kuchar said on the Golf Channel. “The first few holes I don’t necessarily think of as birdie holes, but birdied the first three and just got off to a really good start.”
Kuchar made 116 feet of putts on the day.
“That’s certainly a helpful thing. I love when the putter’s hot,” he said. “I felt good over (the putts). The greens are beautiful. They’re in great shape. They just roll so nice, so it’s good to see some go in.”
His round ended up including six birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, where he sank a 16-foot putt.
In November, Kuchar won the Mayakoba Golf Classic for his eighth career PGA Tour win, and he followed with two more top-20 finishes to end the calendar year. The Sony Open is his 2019 debut.
“I feel in pretty good control of what I’m doing,” he said of his current form. “Not sure a lot’s changed. I just kind of continue to evolve, continue to improve. That’s the goal out here. You never know when wins are going to come. You just hope (you’ll) always get better.”
Putnam had a bogey-free round that featured two birdies on the back nine and then three on the front nine. He concluded with a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole, slicing his deficit behind Kuchar to a single stroke.
Stewart Cink shot 8 under on Friday to leave him tied for third at 10 under with Chez Reavie, who shot 5 under in the second round.
Cink produced eight birdies and a single bogey.
“It was a great day out there. Really all facets of the game were firing,” Cink said on the Golf Channel. “I drove it well, hit a lot of good irons. I rolled in a lot of putts from the range that makes a lot of difference in your score, like 10 to 20 feet. ...
“That’s kind of a hallmark of my game over my whole career is I do have a lot of putts in that range because I’m usually one of the better ball-strikers, but when you see ‘em going in, the game feels a little easy.”
Ted Potter Jr. (5 under on Friday) and Australia’s Marc Leishman (6 under) are tied for fifth at 9 under. Hudson Swafford and Japan’s Shugo Imahira each had a 3-under second round, and they share seventh place at 8 under.
First-round leader Adam Svensson of Canada stumbled from a 9-under round on Thursday to a 4-over round on Friday. He is tied for 20th at 5 under.
Defending champion Patton Kizzire is also tied for 20th following an up-and-down, 2-under round on Friday. He made the turn at 2 over for the day. Following a birdie, an eagle and then back-to-back bogeys, Kizzire birdied each of his final three holes.