Halfway home at the Sony Open and two-time winner Nick Taylor leads the way at the relaxed Sony Open.
Taylor finished birdie-birdie on Friday and got a nice break when he hit a wayward drive on the par five ninth hole that was stopped by the net that keeps balls out of the driving range. His ball ended up close to the bottom of the net. Taylor was given relief and took advantage of a good break to birdie the ninth, his final hole of the day. His great finish added up to a 62 added to his opening 66, he’s 12-under and two clear of second place.
“It was a fortunate break,” Taylor said of his good fortune at the ninth. “Easily could have probably gone under the fence, but to bounce off and get a drop was a break and it was nice to take advantage of it.”
But Nick has plenty of competition chasing him. Here’s how the top contenders stack up behind him:
10 Under Par 130:
Stewart Cink (67-63): The 47-year-old has found new life. He’s enjoying being a contender again and has his son on the bag.
Webb Simpson (65-65): If you had to pick a favorite to win after just two rounds, it’s this guy.
Vaughn Taylor (64-66): A player who often plays better early in the season.
Chris Kirk (65-65): Playing on a medical extension, needs a high finish (top 3?) come Sunday to keep his card.
Russell Henley (66-64): Winner of the Sony Open eight years ago (2013).
Nine Under Par 131:
Collin Morikawa (66-65): At home in Hawaii, has family connections. Look out for this guy over the weekend, his game is trending up.
Charley Hoffman (66-65): Don’t hassle “The Hoff.”
Marc Leishman (66-65): Good iron player, should handle any winds that come up over the final two days.
Joaquin Niemann (62-69): Three-putted the final hole (the ninth) for par otherwise would have been a shot closer to Taylor. Still should be there come Sunday.
Hideki Matsuyama (66-65): Might be finally getting used to that new backswing that doesn’t have the long pause at the top.
Peter Malnati (62-69): After you shoot 62, you shoot 69 and feel like you had an off day.
Bill Horschel (65-66): Good enough to be a Sunday contender.
Brendan Steele (65-66): He’s a late-year crossover performer, surprise contender here.
That’s a good field lined up behind Taylor. Surprise contender after two rounds is 50-year-old K.J. Choi. Choi has rounds 67-65 and he’s tied for 15th. He’s low senior in the event but there are others who survived the cut including Jim Furyk (69-66), Jerry Kelly (68-68) and Mike Weir (68-66). They got in the field and are warming up for the first Champions Tour event of the season next week at Hualalai for the Mitsubishi.