Friday, December 15, 2017
Golf

Matt Kuchar among three tied for RBC Heritage lead

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — There were no major letdowns for Masters contenders Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage on Thursday.

Kuchar, who tied for fifth at Augusta National on Sunday, shot bogey-free 5-under 66 to share the first-round lead with Scott Langley and William McGirt.

Spieth tied for second behind Bubba Watson on Sunday at Augusta and continued his strong play with 69, part of a group of 15 tied for fifth at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Kuchar and Spieth spent much of Sunday in the pressure cooker that is the Masters' final round. But neither allowed any lingering disappointment or fatigue from a grueling week to slow them Thursday.

"I was anxious to get back out and play another competitive round," Spieth said. "So (Thursday) was going to be kind of therapy, in a sense, from last week."

Langley and McGirt each had five birdies on the front nine to match Kuchar.

Harris English (68) was two shots behind. In all, 54 players shot par or better despite wind of 20 mph that swept through the course for much of the round.

The week after the season's first major is generally one of rest for many of golf's big names. Masters champ Watson took this week off, as did Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. Just six of the world's top-20 ranked golfers teed it up this week, led by Kuchar at No. 6.

Tiger Woods continues recuperating from back surgery that kept him from playing Augusta National for the first time in 20 years.

Spieth, who tied with fellow Masters rookie Jonas Blixt for second, didn't consider withdrawing at Harbour Town, convinced of the benefits of quickly getting back to work. It was also a get-to-know-you session for Spieth, 20, who was paired with 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson (75) and 2012 Ryder Cup captain Davis Love (70). "It was unbelievable just to be playing with them," Spieth said.

For Kuchar, playing was a no-brainer considering the strong run he has been on. He tied for fourth at the Texas Open three weeks ago and lost in a playoff at the Houston Open a week later right before the Masters. "You're going to see a lot of guys, if they're not too run down from a major championship, come out and play some pretty good golf the week following," he said.

LPGA: Angela Stanford shot 8-under 64 on a wind-swept course to take a one-stroke lead at 8-under 136 after the second round of the Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii. She had a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie (67). First-round co-leaders So Yeon Ryu (70) and Hyo Joo Kim (70) were in a group of four at 6 under. First-round co-leader Se Ri Pak (71) was 5 under.

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