KUALA LUMPUR – Hideki Matsuyama shot a second-round 68 in Friday’s second round and was seven strokes off the pace at the weather-hit CIMB Classic, the first event of the new PGA season.
On a course where he’s had a history of success, Matsuyama was unhappy to settle for a 4-under-par round the par-72 TPC Kuala Lumpur course — even after holing out with a 33-foot birdie on No. 9.
Starting the day in 23rd place after a 2-under-par first round, Matsuyama carded an eagle, three birdies and a bogey to move to within seven strokes of the lead on a day in which play was suspended for four hours.
Matsuyama’s health has improved since last month’s season-ending Tour Championship, “but when it comes to golf…,” he said, shaking his head.
After finishing second and fifth here the past two seasons, and playing in the same group with the leader, Pat Perez of the United States, Matsuyama appeared to turn the corner with his eagle on the par-5 No. 3. But he missed a birdie putt on No. 4 and found a water hazard with his second shot on No. 5 and bogeyed the hole.
With last year’s winner, Justin Thomas, totaling 23-under par, Matsuyama believes he has his work cut out for him over the final two days.
“The winner is going to need to shoot 20 under or better,” Matsuyama said. “I feel I could do it if I go on a tear, but I don’t see that happening the way I’m playing now.”