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Taniguchi grabs share of lead at Japan PGA

Kyodo

Toru Taniguchi shot his second straight 68 to move into a tie for the lead with first-round leader Norihiro Nakata at the halfway point of the Japan PGA Championship on Friday.

News photoNorihiro Nakata watches his shot during the second round of the Japan PGA
Championship on Friday in Ibigawa, Gifu Prefecture.

Taniguchi, the 2002 money title winner, made six birdies and two bogeys en route to an 8-under 136 total, while little-known Nakata clung onto the top of the leaderboard with a 70 at Tanigumi Country Club in Gifu Prefecture.

Taiwanese veteran Lin Keng-chi followed the co-leaders in third place at 137 after a 69. Shingo Katayama, the top money earner the last two years, also shot a 69 and is another stroke back in a tie with Tomohiro Kondo, who had a 70.

Taniguchi, known for often making outspoken comments on the management of the tour and its tournaments, sounded humble despite putting himself in position to snatch his 11th career victory.

“I’ve been playing without figuring out what was happening to my swing in recent weeks. It’s been getting better slowly but surely, though,” said Taniguchi, who birdied three of the four par-5s.

“I still need to adjust my swing but playing without being in top form sometimes makes you play it safe and get good results,” added the 38-year-old veteran, who is aiming for his first Japan PGA Championship title.

The 28-year-old Nakata, who is winless on the tour, picked up three strokes through 16 holes and would have kept sole possession of the lead without a bogey on the 17th, his only dropped shot in the second round.

Also on the leaderboard, two-time money title winner Toshimitsu Izawa climbed into a tie for sixth with a 69, three strokes off the pace. Tour veteran Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki is a further shot back.

Two-time defending champion S.K. Ho of South Korea missed the cut by seven shots after going 80-71.

The winner will earn 22 million yen in prize money from the 110 million yen purse and a five-year exemption on the tour.