Nassau - Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, making the most of a hot
putter, shot a five-under par 67 on Friday to match US Open champion Dustin
Johnson for the lead at the Hero World Challenge.
Sixth-ranked Matsuyama, coming off three Asian triumphs in
the past six weeks, moved level with the third-ranked American on 12-under 132
through 36 holes at the 18-man invitational event at the Albany resort.
"I'm very happy with my round," Matsuyama said.
"I got it around and I played well. Hopefully I can just keep playing my
own game and play the best that I can."
South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open
champion and a three-time major runner-up, shared third with Olympic bronze
medallist Matt Kuchar of the United States on 134 after each fired a second 67.
Matsuyama, who won the PGA Phoenix Open back in February,
captured the Japan Open in October by three strokes, rolled to a seven-shot
victory two weeks later at the World Golf Championships HSBC Champions event in
Shanghai and added a seven-stroke triumph at the Taiheiyo Masters three weeks
ago in Japan.
"My putting has been a lot better and that's what's
probably the reason why I've played well," Matsuyama said. "When I've
missed some shots the past month or so, I've been able to make the putt."
Johnson, last season's US PGA Player of the Year, has won
twice since capturing his first major title last June at Oakmont, taking the
WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in July and the BMW Championship last
"What I'm working on is the right thing, just keep
trying to get better, improve the wedge game, improve the short game,"
"I struggled a little bit with the driver on the back
nine but made some nice up and downs. I've been rolling the putter pretty well
Johnson birdied three of the first four holes, eagled the
par-5 11th and answered his lone bogey at 12 with birdies at 14 and 18 for his
second consecutive 66.
"Playing solid, playing pretty consistent,"
Johnson said. "Tomorrow need to just drive it a little bit better."
Matsuyama birdied the par-5 third, sixth and 11th holes then
ran off three birdies in a row ending at the par-5 15th. But a bogey at the
par-3 17th combined with Johnson's closing birdie left them deadlocked atop the
Lurking six strokes off the pace after a bogey-free 65
Friday was 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, making his comeback this week
after a 16-month back injury layoff.
While Woods has lost the aura of invincibility that once
accompanied his game, Johnson recalled that he was more intimidated meeting
Woods for the first time than he was meeting his father-in-law, Canadian ice
hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
"I would say Tiger because the first time I met him was
when I played with him in a tournament round," Johnson said. "That
was definitely more intimidating. Wayne is too nice."
Scores after Friday's second round of the Hero World Challenge, an
18-player inivtational event at par-72 Albany Golf Club (USA unless
132 - Dustin Johnson 66-66, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 65-67
134 - Matt Kuchar 67-67, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 67-67
135 - Bubba Watson 72-63
136 - Brandt Snedeker 72-64
137 - Jordan Spieth 68-69, J.B. Holmes 64-73
138 - Tiger Woods 73-65, Rickie Fowler 68-70, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 67-71
140 - Brooks Koepka 72-68
141 - Patrick Reed 72-69, Zach Johnson 72-69, Russell Knox (SCO) 69-72
142 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 70-72
144 - Jimmy Walker 70-74
WD - Justin Rose (ENG) 74