In one of the best scoring oddities of the past few years, Hideki Matsuyama has somehow shot three consecutive 270s at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In each of the last three years, Matsuyama has finished 14 under at this event. That translates to a win and two other top fives which is where it looks like he's headed again this week after reaching 9 under on Friday.
Matsuyama followed up his 6-under 65 on Thursday in Round 1 with a 3-under 68 on Friday that included four birdies and a single bogey at the last hole. That bogey was Matsuyama's first of the tournament in 36 holes. He once again stung the ball off the tee and on his approach shots and sits ranked No. 5 in the field in strokes gained tee to green after two rounds.
He trails Byeong Hun An and Brendan Steele at 10 under and is tied with Martin Laird, Matt Kuchar and Sung Kang at that 9-under mark. There are 20 players within four of the lead going into the final two days. With the way TPC Scottsdale gives and takes away, the tournament certainly is still up for grabs for anyone in that group of 20 and even beyond that.
7 of the last 8 @WMPhoenixOpen winners trailed after the 2nd round. Each of last 3 were 3+ shots back after 36 holes.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) February 4, 2017
As we noted on Thursday, there is a familiarity here for Matsuyama. He is the defending champion, and Vegas has him listed as the heavy favorite (+275) going into Round 3. The bogey at No. 18 on Friday stung considering how beautifully he'd been playing, but Matsuyama is still pleased with his position going into Saturday.
"I hit a good drive there and thought I could go for the pin and came up a little short," said Matsuyama, who hit his second on No. 18 into a bunker in front of the green and couldn't get up and down.
"Little disappointing, but I played well all day. I'm happy with the position I'm in heading into the weekend. I think it will go probably lower than 14 under, so I'm going to have to grind hard and do my best."
Don't bet against that number, though, it's been magic for Matsuyama in the past.