HONOLULU (AP) — Leading Chris Kirk might have been the only shred of normalcy at the Sony Open.
Jordan Spieth started Friday with a chunk of the lead. He came off the 18th green at Waialae in minor shock after missing the cut.
“I felt like I had a really bad deck of cards today,” said Spieth, the first player since Matt Every at Bay Hill in 2020 to go from sharing the 18-hole lead to an early start. “It was a strange, strange day.”
He was 5 out of 75 after opening with a 64.
Rory Sabbatini birdied the 18th hole in the morning and was within a shot of the lead heading into the front nine. He took his tee shot out of bounds. Double bogie. He drove his drive into the water at No. 2. Double bogey. He made his second shot on the No. 3 in the same water and got the same score. He shot 41 on the back nine for 74 and missed the cut for 1.
JJ Spaun had a happier moment until the end, when a misshot sent his tee shot into the channel at the par-5 ninth, leading to a bogey on the easier hole at Waialae. He still shot 64 and was a stroke behind.
But imagine showing up to the first tee of a PGA Tour event set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and seeing your high school principal watching you. Rita Kear, a San Dimas High School retiree, was on vacation with her husband.
“I saw her on the first tee and I thought, ‘My God, is that Mrs. Kear?’ Indeed it was,” Spaun said. “Small world.”
A strange world on Friday, at least on the shores of wild and crazy Waikiki.
Kirk hit just one shot in his round of 5-under 65, putting him at 11-under 129 for a one-shot lead over Spaun and Taylor Montgomery, the PGA Tour rookie who is playing in his eighth tournament of the season and has only done so. done once. he finished outside the top 15.
He’s very polite, so hearing Montgomery talk about his teenage years in Las Vegas and the time he caddied at Shadow Creek and was badmouthing Michael Jordan (it didn’t end well for Montgomery), was hard to imagine. Then again, that was part of the course on Friday at Waialae.
Kirk was one of the good stories at the Sony Open two years ago. He had turned away from golf to seek help for alcoholism and depression. He received a medical extension and the Sony Open was his last chance to keep the full card on him. He did it by closing out with a 65 to tie for second.
Kirk was among those tied for the lead when the second round began. He birdied the first three holes and, apart from a bogey on number 6, he didn’t have much pressure. But he can appreciate the difficulty of trying to maintain good form from one day to the next.
“It’s very difficult to be good in this game professionally mentally,” he said. “I don’t know if I did a good job today or not, but luckily I did on the back nine. I always remind myself that pressure is a privilege when you start to feel a little nervous.
Spieth wasn’t sure what he was feeling. He rose to the day, right in the mix, as he went from rude to funky lie in the bunker. Next up was the par 5 ninth which is the easiest birdie on the course until the ball sails straight into the channel.
He jumped near the red danger line with his left foot on the wagon path. Taking more relief would have put a tree in play, but then he worried that his left foot would slip and his ball wouldn’t vanish like he wanted. It was a disaster and he had to putt 10 feet for the bogey.
It felt like that had been going on all day.
“I’ve never led a tournament and missed the cut before,” Spieth said. “I just put the ball in the wrong places in the wrong places.”
The cut won’t be officially made until Saturday morning because darkness again prevented everyone from finishing. But it will be at 138, 2 under par. Davis Thompson was 2 under par and facing an eagle putt from just 60 feet. As long as he doesn’t four-putt, he’ll be available over the weekend. Given how Friday went, it was probably a good idea to wait.
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