117TH U.S. OPEN: CUT DAY Matsuyama moves early
7-under-par 65 vaults him from 82nd to top 10


June 17, 2017

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan watches his shot on hole No. 10 on Friday during the second-round of the U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills in the town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Daily News

TOWN OF ERIN— Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama got a jump on the rest of the field for the day traditionally dubbed “Moving Day.”

Matsuyama shot a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 in Friday’s second round of the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills to move from tied for 82nd to tied for eighth, two shots off the lead, at 5-under.

“The biggest difference was I putted very well today,” Matsuyama said through a translator. “I’m very excited and very happy with the score.”

Four golfers are tied for the lead heading into the weekend’s final rounds – Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka. They are all at 7-under through the first 36 holes.

“It’s good,” said Harman, who shot 2-under Friday. “It’s where you hope to be. I was pretty nervous this morning and I got off to a little shaky spot. And I was proud I hung in there. Finished off pretty well.”

Rickie Fowler, the leader after Thursday’s opening round, shot a 1-over-par 73 on Friday and is at 6-under. Also at 6-under are Jamie Lovemark and J.B. Holmes.

Tied for eighth is Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Champ and Brandt Snedeker.

“I feel pretty confident,” said Koepka, who played in the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills. “And I’m excited. I’m driving the ball really well.”

Casey started his day with a par on the par-4 No. 10. He birdied No. 11 and made par on No. 12.

On the par-5 No. 14, he made an 8, a triple bogey. Then he bogeyed No. 15.

Then, starting on the par-4 No. 17, Casey made five straight birdies.

“I was upset with the score I had made, but it had, in no way, any effect on my attitude or how I was going to then approach the rest of the round or the next shot,” Casey said of his triple bogey.

The third day is typically called “Moving Day” because it is the day players try to best position themselves for the final round.

“Shooting a good score today gave me a lot of confidence,” Matsuyama said. “I really haven’t been hitting the ball well of late. To shoot a good round like today, I’m certainly looking forward to the weekend.”

Grouped with Fowler and Jon Rahm, Matsuyama went right to work, teeing off from the par-5 597-yard No. 1. Putting from off the green for eagle, Matsuyama rolled the shot within 5 feet of the cup, and made his birdie.

He followed that up with birdies on five of the next seven holes to surge up the leaderboard. He narrowly missed a birdie on No. 9 that would’ve given him a 29 on the front nine.

His lone birdie on the back nine was on the par-3 No. 13, making a putt from more than 30 feet.

On the par-5 676-yard No. 18, Matsuyama narrowly missed a birdie that would’ve given him an 8under for the day, which would’ve tied a U.S. Open record for a score relative to par in the second round.

“I didn’t,” he said when asked if he knew about the record. “I thought 63 was the number. I wasn’t thinking too much about 8-under.”

Matsuyama has yet to win a major. However, he’s been close of late.

He has finished in the top 11 in three of the last five majors, including tied for seventh at the 2016 Masters and tied for fourth at the 2016 PGA Championship.

He was tied for 11th at this year’s Masters.

He missed the cut in the 2016 U.S. Open and Open Championship.

“I really can’t think about it until maybe after I win,” he said when asked what it would mean to win a major.

If he wins, he might become Japan’s next hero.

On May 28, countryman Takuma Sato won the 101st Indianapolis 500, becoming the first Japanese-born driver to do so.

“I don’t know much about car racing,” Matsuyama said. “But I do know he was the first Japanese driver to do it and what a great feat it was.

“It was a tremendous accomplishment.”