Kuchar takes lead at Barclays

2011-08-26 07:00

Edison - Defending champion Matt Kuchar might have already won The Barclays just by leading the $7.5 million US PGA event after 36 holes, but the American has some work to do Saturday anyway.

Kuchar fired a bogey-free six-under par 65 on Friday to stand on 14-under 128 with a one-stroke lead after what was originally scheduled to be the mid-point of the opening event of the season-ending US PGA playoffs.

Hurricane Irene, however, has literally been a game-changer this weekend as it approaches the New York metropolitan area after causing widespread damage and destruction in the Caribbean islands.

US PGA officials decided Friday to reduce the event from 72 holes to 54 due to the potential threat of Irene, in part because tournament volunteers wanted to make certain there was time to safeguard their families and homes.

Players were set to begin the third round Saturday morning in hopes of having everyone finish 54 holes before the storm struck the area.

But if the third round is not completed, scores will revert to how they stood after 36 holes.

That would give Kuchar the victory by a stroke over countryman Dustin Johnson and Fiji's Vijay Singh.

"They definitely made the right decision with 54 holes," Kuchar said. "The forecast just looks terrible. I think all of us are going to be excited to wrap this thing up and get out of here as quickly and safely as we can.

"It has the potential to be pretty scary."

In terms of advancing the top 100 players into next week's playoff event near Boston, full points will be awarded to determine the qualifiers for the second round of the season-ending playoffs.

Kuchar finished his first round on Friday morning after a storm halted play on Thursday for three hours, making a par on 17 and a birdie on the 18th hole to finish a 63 before starting his second round.

Kuchar birdied the par-3 third, par-5 fifth and par-4 seventh and began a run of three birdies in four holes at the par-5 12th to maintain his lead heading into what suddenly has become the final round, provided it's completed.

With last-group playing partners Johnson and Singh on his heels and eight others within five shots, Saturday could be a battle before the storm.

"It's going to turn into a bit of a shootout," Kuchar said. "I knew that was the potential, to cut to 54 holes, and needed to make as many birdies as I could. Felt that I left a couple out there."

Shutting down the event after 54 holes could help Kuchar, who ranks third in scoring in the third rounds this season but only 46th in US PGA final rounds.

Johnson fired a bogey-free 63 in the second round, opening and closing the front nine with back-to-back birdies plus two more on the back nine and two more back-to-back on the fourth and fifth holes.

Singh opened a round of 64 with back-to-back birides, followed a birdie at the 12th with his lone bogey on 13 but responded with birdies on the next three holes and another on the 18th to put himself in the hunt for his first title since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship, a week after he won the Barclays.

"I'm pretty happy with my position," Singh said. "I would have loved to be in the lead in case we don't play, but I'm quite happy starting one shot off going into the last day.

"It's going to be a pretty tough day because everybody is going to be trying to shoot low, so I'm just going to go out there and just see if I can repeat what I did today(Friday)."

Scores on Friday after the second round of the $7.5 million US PGA Barclays (USA unless noted, par 71):

128 - Matt Kuchar 63-65

129 - Dustin Johnson 66-63, Vijay Singh (FIJ) 65-64

131 - Jonathan Byrd 65-66

132 - Justin Rose (GBR) 67-65, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 65-67, Charley Hoffman 66-66, Aaron Baddeley (AUS) 66-66

133 - William McGirt 64-69, Harrison Frazar 64-69, Adam Scott (AUS) 66-67

134 - Chris Stroud 65-69, Chad Campbell 67-67, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 68-66, Kyle Stanley 68-66, Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 68-66, Camilo Villegas (COL) 68-66


135 - Brian Davis (GBR) 69-66, Robert Allenby (AUS) 67-68, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 69-66, Fredrik Jacobson (SWE) 67-68, Jason Day (AUS) 67-68

136 - YE Yang (KOR) 70-66 (KOR), Robert Karlsson (SWE) 68-68, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 68-68, Luke Donald (GBR) 70-66, David Hearn (CAN) 67-69, Charlie Wi (KOR) 69-67, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 70-66, Retief Goosen (RSA) 68-68

137 - Phil Mickelson 67-70, Graeme McDowell (NIR) 72-65, Trevor Immelman (RSA) 67-70, Ernie Els (RSA) 68-69, Ryuji Imada (JPN) 70-67, KJ Choi (KOR) 70-67, Marc Leishman (AUS) 69-68

138 - Martin Laird (GBR) 71-67, Ian Poulter (GBR) 71-67, Arjun Atwal (IND) 67-71, Andres Romero (ARG) 72-66, Greg Chalmers (AUS) 70-68

Failed to qualify

139 - John Senden (AUS) 72-67

140 - Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 69-71

141 - Rod Pampling (AUS) 71-70

142 - Nick O'Hern (AUS) 72-70

143 - Steven Bowditch (AUS) 75-68

WD - Stuart Appleby (AUS) 81