A proud streak ended for Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama at the BMW Championship on Friday as Byeong Hun An of Korea kept alive his own hopes of qualifying for the FedExCup Playoff Finale, the TOUR Championship for the first time.
Matsuyama, who shot an opening 71 on Thursday, withdrew before the start of his second round at Olympia Fields with a back injury which was his third WD of the season. He entered the BMW Championship, the penultimate Playoffs event, in 47th position on the FedExCup standings and needed a big week to get into the top-30 for next week’s showpiece at East Lake in Atlanta.
It was a disappointing conclusion to his 2022-23 PGA TOUR campaign as Matsuyama, who was playing in his fifth successive week, was battling hard to qualify for the TOUR Championship which he has done so in each of the last nine seasons for the longest active streak of any player.
An eight-time PGA TOUR winner, he had earlier withdrawn from the Cadence Bank Houston Open last November and then at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March where he conceded his final group match to Max Homa, who was in top form on Friday with a course-record 62 to seize the 36-hole lead by two strokes from Chris Kirk.
An, who has two top-3 finishes in his last four starts, fired a fine 67 which included three birdies over his last six holes to move up to tied 13th on 3-under, seven behind the leader. Ranked 38th entering the week, the 31-year-old Korean needs to finish inside the top-10 to have any chance of advancing into the TOUR Championship which will crown the FedExCup champion.
Countryman Sungjae Im carded a second straight 68 to move up to tied 10th on 4-under as he strengthened his bid to make the TOUR Championship for the fifth successive year where he was runner-up in the FedExCup last season for Asia’s best ever finish. Im is projected to move up 10 rungs to 18th position on the FedExCup standings.
Si Woo Kim carded a 69 for T29 while Tom Kim returned his second straight 72 for T43 in the 50-man field. Starting the week in 17th and 18th position respectively on the FedExCup standings, Si Woo Kim looks safe to advance into the TOUR Championship for only the second time in his career while Tom Kim’s current position sees him sitting in 26th position with two rounds remaining.
Homa, a six-time TOUR winner, produced a stunning 10 birdies to tie his career low round and most birdies in a single round on TOUR. His 10-under 130 total also marks his best opening 36-hole score of his career. “Obviously I holed a lot of putts but I was very proud of how I drove it. I felt like I was able to attack kind of all day,” said the 32-year-old. “After 14 or 15, I just was thinking to myself, I’ve birdied most of the holes on the back nine, and that was quite a nice feeling.”
After tying the first round lead with a 65, reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy’s charge slowed down considerably with a second round 70 and trails Homa by five shots with two rounds to go. “Pretty mediocre. One birdie, one bogey. Gave myself tons of chances. I felt like I hit good putts, just hit a lot of edges, and the ball just sort of slid by,” lamented the Northern Irishman.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler shot a 69 for tied fifth place alongside McIlroy on 5-under while current FedExCup No. 1 Jon Rahm stumbled to a 74 for equal 35th place.
Second-Round Notes – Friday, August 18, 2023
Weather: Mostly sunny. High of 80. Wind NW 6-12 mph.
|1||Max Homa||68||62||130 (-10)|
|2||Chris Kirk||66||66||132 (-8)|
|T3||Matt Fitzpatrick||66||67||133 (-7)|
|T3||Brian Harman||65||68||133 (-7)|