Hideki Matsuyama smokes course record at Medinah in Round 2 of BMW Championship

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Hideki Matsuyama smokes course record at Medinah in Round 2 of BMW Championship

PGA Tour

Hideki Matsuyama smokes course record at Medinah in Round 2 of BMW Championship

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MEDINAH, Ill. – With one birdie after another after another and so on, Hideki Matsuyama was bringing the behemoth No. 3 course at Medinah Country Club to its knees Friday in the second round of the BMW Championship.

Along the way, he had nary a clue he was putting the course record in jeopardy. But with birdies from 23 feet on the 17th and 30 feet on the 18th, Matsuyama established the new mark with a 9-under-par 63 and was all smiles after being told shortly after he left the 18th hole.

“I’m happy with the way I played,” Matsuyama said through a translator.

He is a man of few words, but his body language the past two years has spoken volumes. Once ranked No. 2 in the world, Matsuyama has fallen to No. 32, his lowest ranking since 2012. The winner of 14 professional tournaments – including five on the PGA Tour – hasn’t won since the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Since winning the WGC title, he has looked like a beaten soul as he tried to regain his once elite status on the golf course, driving range and practice putting green.

BMW CHAMPIONSHIP: Scores | Photos | Prize Money | Tee Times/TV

He came into the BMW Championship off two missed cuts and ties for 30th and 43rd in his last four starts.

But through rounds of 69-63, he’s been Hideki Matsuyama again. Buoyed by his power, strong iron play and a sizzling putter, Matsuyama’s 63 broke the course record by two shots. In the first round, Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak had tied the previous course record held by Skip Kendall, Tiger Woods and Mike Weir.

Matsuyama was the clubhouse leader at 12 under by one shot over Patrick Cantlay (66-67).

“I’m really happy with my position,” Matsuyama said. “I worked hard and it’s not that it came out of the blue, but I’m very happy. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in contention. Hopefully I can play well. I’ve been struggling for a while this year. Hopefully that can turn around and I’ll have a good weekend.”

He will if he continues to putt like he did in the second round as he made 165 feet of putts. Matsuyama has spent many hours the past three years on practice putting greens trying to find a better way forward. He’s made many changes from his putter, his grip and his stance.

He found something that worked in the first round.

“I did make a lot of long putts today and that was the difference,” he said. “Actually, it started yesterday during my round. I was able to halfway through kind of see what I was doing wrong on the greens, and it carried over today. I was happy that a lot of them went in. As they went in you start gaining more confidence and as your confidence builds, more putts go in.

“I have received a lot of advice, good advice from some real good putting professionals and I’m starting to get that feeling back that I had three years ago when I putted well and I’m happy about that.”

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