HONOLULU – At the rate he’s going, Brian Stuard might just buy himself a piece of property here at Waialae Country Club.
That he has opened 65-65 to push to 10 under and assume the lead at the Sony Open is hardly a shock; after all, he shot 65-65 on the weekend here a year ago. Four consecutive 65s certainly qualifies as being comfortable, but just don’t ask the unheralded PGA Tour member why that is.
“I’ve been trying to figure it out,” said Stuard, who if you go back to the fourth round in his debut here in 2010 has been in the 60s seven straight times, good for 30 under. “I think it’s something to do with the greens. I feel comfortable on the greens.”
Impressive as he’s been, Stuard cannot let the foot off the pedal, because Marc Leishman (67-64) and Hideto Tanihara (66-65) are just a stroke behind, and a healthy list of competitors are giving chase. His 12 birdies and an eagle – against four bogeys – is just one storyline thus far, because here are 5 Things you need to know from Friday’s second round:
• • •
1. SURPRISE, HE’S GONE: We have become accustomed to seeing Jordan Spieth challenge for the top spot (after all, in his last 12 PGA Tour tournaments he has a won, three seconds, a fourth and a sixth), so after rounds of 70-71 it was a bit stunning to know he was headed for the exits.
When was the last time he missed a cut?
Spieth smiled, then laughed. He knew the answer – the PGA Championship last August – but he knew something else, too. “I haven’t played a tournament with a cut in a long time,” he said.
Indeed, into the Sony Spieth had played four straight tournaments without a cut – the Hyundai last week, the HSBC Champions last November, the Tour Championship and the BMW Championship.
If his early departure from the Sony had a curious aspect to it, it was this: Spieth loved the golf course.
“I would love to have these greens every week,” he said. “But I struggled off the tee, especially with my 3-wood, and I struggled to hit a cut all week.”
With his flight booked for Sunday night, the 20-year-old said he would hang around “and try to do something fun tomorrow,” although he said conceded if he could get a flight out Saturday night, he might do that.
Spieth will next play at the Farmers Insurance Open Jan. 23-26.
• • •
2. NO MISMATCH HERE: On paper, it would not appear to be a comfortable fit – one of the game’s longest and most powerful on one of the PGA Tour’s coziest and tightest layouts. But Jason Kokrak has handled Waialae CC quite well, thank you.
“I’m keeping the ball in play, keeping the ball in front of me,” said Kokrak, who has put together rounds of 66-67 to sit at 7 under, just three off the lead. “I’m pleased with where I’m at right now.”
Kokrak has already surpassed anything he had previously done at the Sony, as 69 had been his best round here. Still, “I’m going to have to make a few more putts (this weekend),” he said.
Playing competitively for the first time since the BMW Championship last September, Kokrak feels fresh, but needs to knock off a little of the rust.
“I didn’t do a whole lot of practicing this offseason, so I’m just kind of playing my way into some good play (this week).”
• • •
3. BETTER THAN A MEDICAL: Spencer Levin was hitting balls at home in 2012 and started to feel some discomfort — a twinge and somehow Levin had torn ligaments in his left thumb.
First, he believed it needed rest, but after three doctors recommended surgery, Levin followed their advice and missed all of the 2013 season.
“I wanted to make sure I was totally 100 percent, and then I didn’t really want to come back in the middle of a year,” Levin said. “I figured I might as well wait those extra couple months so I could get those Web.coms and then I’ll play the beginning of the Tour in October. I figured of all times to be hurt, it was good.”
Levin’s return started at the Frys.com Open with a 12th and made the cut in next three events of the wraparound 2014 season.
Now after two rounds, Levin will be playing his fifth consecutive weekend since returning to the PGA Tour. It’s the first time since January through March of 2012 that Levin has made five consecutive cuts.
“I love playing tournament golf,” Levin said. “I love going out and playing golf. At first it was like, it might be nice to have a little time off, but then after a couple weeks on the couch, after like a month, I was like, damn, this is going to be a long time to sit here with my hand wrapped up.”
One thing Levin has learned, potentially during that time off, is how to be patient and not so anxious on the golf course.
That knowledge came in handy on Friday when Levin started 3 over on the first three holes and moved outside the cut line. But he’d eventually fight back to fire a 1-under 69 to get to 2 under for the tournament.
“It’s not the end of the world, so to speak, now,” Levin said of making the cut. “Hopefully I can keep the attitude if I’m in contention, because times I’ve been in contention I’ve kind of shot myself in the foot because I want to say I’ve maybe tried too hard.”
• • •
4. SCRAMBLING INTO POSITION: Boo Weekley hit it fine at the Plantation Course at Kapalua last week, unfortunately he didn’t putt very well, never breaking 70 and finished 26th in a 30-player field.
What a difference a week makes.
Weekley still isn’t putting extremely well — even though he has made a couple of long ones — but unlike last week when Weekley was hitting the ball well, he isn’t this week and yet he is at 6 under through two rounds and just four shots off the lead.
“I know my golf game is not where it should be because I ain’t put any time in on it yet,” Weekley said. “I’ve been home hunting and fishing, doing my thing what I want to do, and you ain’t going to be able to come right out of the gate saying I’m hitting this solid, I’m hitting this.”
For Weekley, a feel player, venues like Colonial, Hilton Head and Waialae are places he can shine, even without his “A” game.
“I’m missing in the right spots right now, thank goodness,” Weekley said. “I’m missing it where I can get it up‑and‑down or I’m missing it in the bunkers where I’m drawing the good lies out of the rough, and I’m in the bunker but I’m not against the lips.”
• • •
5. SHORT SHOTS: James Hahn holed out from 193 yards to make an albatross at the 497-yard, par-5 ninth. It was the first albatross at the Sony since Terry Mauney did the honors at at that same hole in Round 2 of the 1978 tournament. . . . Tim Clark ran off a nice little stretch – a birdie at 17, an eagle at 18, a birdie at No. 3 – but by then a sore elbow had caused him plenty of heartache. When Clark bogeyed the par-4 fourth to go to 3 over for the tournament, he had had enough and he withdrew. . . . 79 players made the cut at 1 under. . . . Amateurs William Liu (+6), Tianlang Guan (+8) and Jared Sawada (+10) all missed the cut. . . . Russell Knox was comfortably under the cut line at 2 under, playing the ninth hole, his last. After a drive into the right hazard, Knox struggled to get to the green and after a two-putt made a double-bogey 7 on the easiest hole of the round.