PORTSTEWART, NORTHERN IRELAND – World No. 2 Hideki Matsuyama fired a 4-under-par 68 Friday to sit in a share of eighth place after the second round of the Irish Open.
Matsuyama had six birdies and two bogeys in blustery conditions at Portstewart Golf Club, while compatriot Hideto Tanihara sizzled with a 65 and joined him in a four-way tie at 9-under 135, four shots off the lead.
American Daniel Im and Benjamin Hebert of France continued to set the pace, with both shooting rounds of 67 to stay tied for the lead at 13 under.
Teeing off on the back nine, Matsuyama had a bogey and a birdie through his first nine holes before hitting his stride after the turn with five birdies, including three straight from the fifth hole, against one dropped shot.
“The weather conditions were really tough but I was able to cope well. If it gets this blustery then it is good practice ahead of the British Open,” said Matsuyama.
“It was good that I was able to pepper my last five holes with birdies,” added Matsuyama, who last month tied Japan’s best major championship performance by a PGA tour player with a stunning second-place finish at the U.S. Open.
Tanihara enjoyed a bogey-free round that featured seven birdies.
“The putts went down for me,” said Tanihara. “I was able to read the greens well and they were slow so I knew I had to hit the ball well. I was able to get my touch right.”
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