Sun, Aug 18, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Matsuyama sets record, Pan starstruck

‘DREAM COME TRUE’:After bogeying his first hole as the reality of playing alongside his idol set in, Taiwan’s C.T. Pan surpassed Tiger Woods leading into the weekend

Staff writer, with AFP, WASHINGTON

Taiwan’s C.T. Pan hits from the second tee in the second round of the BMW Championship on Friday in Medinah, Illinois.

Photo: AFP

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama on Friday shattered the course record at Medinah with a nine-under-par 63 to seize the early second-round lead at the US PGA BMW Championship, while Taiwan’s C.T. Pan rocketed up the standings after carding a 67.

Pan was in a share of 21st going into the weekend on six-under after shooting a bogey-free second round with five birdies, shaking his nerves at playing with one of the sport’s greats.

The Taiwanese said that he could not feel his hands when he bogeyed the first hole on Thursday, his first time as Tiger Woods’ playing partner.

“It’s wild,” he told the PGA Tour Web site. “It’s crazy. Everybody is yelling ‘Tiger’ nonstop, like four hours except when he come out to hit balls. Really crazy. I don’t know how he — it definitely affects your game a little bit.”

“I don’t know how he handles that and still wins 82 or 100-something professional events,” he added. “That’s just amazing.”

“This was a deeply memorable experience, a childhood dream come true!” Pan wrote on Facebook after the first round.

Despite the pressure, he came through the halfway point ahead of Woods, whose 71 in each round put him back in 48th.

Asked about the highlight of his first two rounds, Pan said: “Pairing with Tiger and being able to hit a lot of good shots under pressure.”

“Lot of noise out there for sure, but you’re just being able to focus. That tells me that I’m much better at that. Definitely will help me in the future,” he added.

Woods sank birdie putts at the 14th and 15th holes, but made bogeys at 16 and 17.

“I left quite a few shots out there,” Woods said. “I hit the ball a lot better today, which is great, and didn’t really make anything until 14, 15.”

Woods slid even further from his goal of cracking the top 30 on the PGA playoff season points list to earn a chance to defend his Tour Championship title next week in Atlanta.

“I’m going to have to have a great weekend and make a lot of birdies this week and post some rounds in the mid-60s to give myself a chance,” he said.

Matsuyama, a 2017 US Open runner-up seeking his sixth US tour title, birdied five of the first eight holes and four of the final seven in a bogey-free round to stand on 12-under 132 after 36 holes.

“It seemed like every birdie chance I had today I made the putt,” Matsuyama said. “Add it up, that’s what I got.”

His total was two strokes under the old course mark of 65 shared by first-round coleaders Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak, and previously held by Woods, Skip Kendall and Canada’s Mike Weir.

Americans Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay shared second in the clubhouse on 133, one stroke off the pace.

Thomas carded a 69 and was alone on 134 with a fifth-place pack on 135.

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