Sunday, December 17, 2017
Golf

Kevin Kisner leads WGC-HSBC Champions

SHANGHAI — Two par saves in the middle of his round and two birdies at the end put Kevin Kisner in a place he had never been. And that had nothing to do with his first trip to China.

Kisner put together a bogey-free performance Friday in the HSBC Champions for 6-under 66 and a two-shot lead over Russell Knox (65) at the World Golf Championships event. Kisner was at 14-under 130, the lowest 36-hole score of his career, and he was the 36-hole leader for the first time in his career.

It was more than Kisner expected at Sheshan International, mainly because he didn't have any expectations.

A sore back kept the 31-year-old American from seeing the course until he teed it up in the opening round Thursday. He was so lost that walking off the eighth green, he wasn't sure how to get to the next hole. None of that seemed to matter.

"It's just golf, man," Kisner said. "Doesn't matter if it was here or wherever. Still get the ball in the hole as fast as you can."

First-round leader Branden Grace, who opened with 63, added three birdies through 10 holes, then forced the issue trying to get further ahead and played the final eight holes in 2 over. He shot 71 and was four shots behind.

Jordan Spieth missed a few good opportunities at the turn, then ran off three straight bogeys and wondered if he would make another par. He salvaged his day with birdies on the final two par 5s for 72 and was 10 shots behind.

Rory McIlroy winced on the range as he felt cramps in his stomach from food poisoning earlier in the week. He wasted a decent start by playing the last six holes in 2 over for 72 and joined Spieth at 4-under 140.

Champions: Michael Allen made a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole to take a two-stroke lead over playing partner Bernhard Langer in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Scottsdale, Ariz. Warned for slow play around the turn, Allen finished with 6-under 64 for an 11-under 129 total. Langer, the first-round leader, shot 68 and was in position to win the season points title and a $1 million annuity. Kenny Perry (66) and Billy Andrade (67) were 8 under.

LPGA: Angela Stanford and Ryann O'Toole shared the lead at 7-under 65 after the first round of the 54-hole Toto Japan Classic in Shima. A stroke back were Ai Suzuki, Ha-Neul Kim, Ilhee Lee, Jenny Shin and Mi-Jeong Jeon. Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson topped the group at 67.

PGA: First-round leader Roberto Castro shot 5-under 67 for the clubhouse lead at 15-under 129 in the waterlogged Sanderson Farms Championship at Jackson, Miss. Bryce Molder (69), Jhonattan Vegas and D.J. Trahan were four back. Vegas and Trahan had two holes left when play was suspended for the day because of lightning. Earlier, Round 2 was interrupted for almost five hours by rain. Only 22 players completed the round.

Reports: New coach for Mickelson: After amicably parting with swing coach Butch Harmon last week, Phil Mickelson has turned to Andrew Getson, 41, a respected but low-profile Australian who has built an impressive clientele in six years at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., Golf Digest reported. One of Mickelson's first professional affiliations after he left Arizona State in 1992 was with Grayhawk. His name is still on the Phil's Grill restaurant in the clubhouse.

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