U.S. Open notebook: Hideki Matsuyama back in mix after 7-under
ERIN, Wis. — Hideki Matsuyama had a solid showing at the Masters in April. Then he stumbled a bit in his next three starts on the PGA Tour.
Looks like he might be back on track again.
Matsuyama vaulted into contention at the U.S. Open with a 7-under-par 65 on Friday, moving to 5-under and a tie for eighth — two shots back of the four-way tie atop the crowded leaderboard. The Japanese star matched Chez Reavie for the best round of the day, three shots clear of the next best performance by Bill Haas.
“Shooting a good score today gave me a lot of confidence,” Matsuyama said. “I really haven't been hitting the ball well as of late. To shoot a good round like today, I'm certainly looking forward to the weekend.”
Matsuyama defended his title in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, beating Webb Simpson in a playoff at TPC Scottsdale. He closed with a 67 at Augusta that got him into a tie for 11th at 1 under, but his game dropped off a bit from there.
After tying for 45th at the Memorial last month, Matsuyama arrived at Erin Hills on a downturn in a topsy-turvy season. He shot a 2-over 74 on Thursday.
“After yesterday's round, I received a couple of tips from different people, and it seemed to work well,” he said.
The 25-year-old Matsuyama, ranked No. 4 in the world, birdied six of his first eight holes in the second round. He made the turn at 6-under 30, just one off the U.S. Open record of 29 for nine holes.
Rookie reaching goals
When he was young, Xander Schauffele's soccer coaches insisted he play defense. Instead, Schauffele switched to golf.
The kid with the can't-miss hand-eye coordination is doing his scoring at Erin Hills this week. The PGA Tour rookie spent part of the second round sharing the lead. He followed an opening 66 with a 73 to get to 5-under-par, and he finished in a tie for eighth, two shots out of the lead.
Not bad for a U.S. Open rookie who had to go through qualifying to make it to Erin Hills.
“I think me being a little naive has almost prepared me for this situation,” said Schauffele, whose name is pronounced (SHAU-fah-leh).
Elderly spectator dies
A 94-year-old man died during the second round. Authorities said the death appears to be of natural causes.
Rescue personnel and sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the grandstand next to the sixth green after the man was reported to be without a pulse. Lt. Robert Stuesser of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said in a release that emergency personnel performed CPR.