Kevin Kisner is in front and ready for a weekend fight at PGA Championship

Kevin Kisner 2017 PGA Championship Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Kisner is in front and ready for a weekend fight at PGA Championship

PGA Tour

Kevin Kisner is in front and ready for a weekend fight at PGA Championship

CHARLOTTE – The way some tell it at the PGA Championship, Kevin Kisner is one of the most tenacious competitors on the PGA Tour. Not someone you want to go up against in match play.

We hear that about Kisner, but we rarely get to see it. He’s not a go-to guy for television coverage unless he’s in contention, and he’d never been in serious contention at a major championship prior to this week at Quail Hollow.

Kisner shot 4-under 67 for the second consecutive day in Round 2 and held a four-shot lead over the field Friday afternoon at 8 under. Now he can tell us how he earned that bulldog reputation, and we can see it too.

“I guess (from) beating up people on Tuesday,” said Kisner, alluding to a certain prowess on the most popular day for money games among Tour players. “I’ve always played other sports throughout my life and I’ve never been the biggest guy, so I had to find a way to get things done. That’s why I play golf now, because I was better than everybody else at golf. I like beating people and I like competing, and that’s kind of how I was raised.”

Kisner picked up his second career win this year at Colonial and has one of the shots of the season to date, a 95-foot eagle chip to force a playoff at the team-format Zurich Classic in April.

He had another must-see shot Friday at Quail Hollow, chipping in from 45 feet at the par-4 7th – his 16th hole of the day – and sending a message that he’s ready for the pressure that comes with being on top at a major for the first time.

“I’ve played mini-tours, learned how to win there,” Kisner said. “Played the Web.com Tour, learned how to win there. Got to the PGA Tour, learned how to win there. The next step is competing and winning major championships.”

That starts with another aggressive showing Saturday in Round 3 for a 33-year-old who has been around long enough to know where these things can go wrong.

“I think a big step is just understanding that no lead is safe,” Kisner said. “That’s one of the biggest things people don’t understand is how good guys play coming down the stretch, and you have to continue to make birdies. You can’t just expect that somebody is going to hand you the tournament out here.”

Tough-guy reputations aren’t just handed out either, but Kisner earned his nonetheless at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds. Now he’s looking to earn his first career major at an unforgiving track which suits his personality just fine.

“This golf course is going to demand a fighter mentality,” Golf Channel analyst and former World No. 1 David Duval said Thursday night. “It is going to punch you and you’ve got to punch back a little bit. When you have the approach that (Kisner) has, I think it’s going to serve him well. He’s that tough.”

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