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Byeong Hun An, Brendan Steele share Phoenix Open lead after 2nd round

By
Mike Tulumello, The Sports Xchange
Brendan Steele watches his tee shot on the 2nd hole. UPI/Brian Kersey
Brendan Steele watches his tee shot on the 2nd hole. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Byeong Hun An had never seen the TPC Scottsdale course until this week.

The 25-year-old Korean has adjusted nicely to his new surroundings. He shot his second straight 66 Friday to tie Brendan Steele at 10-under-par 132 after two rounds of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

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An closed his round by making a 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.

"I always make one of those, I guess, in a round," he said.

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An, who played in college at California and is a former U.S. Amateur winner, hit only five of 14 fairways but scrambled to make 15 of 18 greens in regulation. In his first 36 holes, he has had only one bogey.

Steele shot 4-under 67 to follow up his 65 on Thursday.

Matt Kuchar, the first-round leader, is one shot back at 9-under, as are Hideki Matsuyama, Martin Laird and Sung Kang. Kuchar shot 2-under 69 to follow his 7-under 64 on Thursday. Matsuyama, seeking his second straight Phoenix Open win, would have tied for the lead but missed a par putt at 18.

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Louis Oosthuizen, hurt by a double bogey at 18, is at 7-under, along with Rickie Fowler and Michael Kim, heading into the weekend.

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Kuchar seemed satisfied with his round, saying, "Hard to keep up with yesterday's 7-under. I played amazing golf yesterday. I still feel like today was very steady golf."

Kuchar said he didn't drive quite as well Friday. In addition, he felt the difference of playing in the morning on Friday, after playing in the afternoon on Thursday.

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"The ball goes significantly longer in the afternoon," he said. "It feels like the course plays so much longer in the morning."

Laird had a bogey-free 66 to follow his 67 on Thursday. He was 7-for-7 in scrambling thanks to rolling in putts for a total of nearly 137 feet.

"It's amazing what a putter can do for you," said Laird, who lives in Scottsdale near the TPC. "A lot of nice saves where you're looking at a bogey and then rolling a 15-footer for par."

Phil Mickelson shot 70 to enter the weekend at 4-under par. He hurt his chances for his fourth Phoenix Open win with bogeys at Nos. 8 and 9, his final two holes.

"It sucks finishing with two bogeys," Mickelson said. "But I'm playing well."

Jordan Spieth is also at 4-under after shooting 68 on Friday. He hurt his score by hitting his tee shot in the water on 18 and finishing with a double-bogey 6.

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Spieth said he discussed strategy with his caddy and they concluded, "If you hit it solid, it's for sure going to carry that water.

"And I smashed it, and it still didn't carry. That was kind of a bugaboo on our part."

Fowler, three shots back, will have experience going for him this weekend.

"I think out of any Tour events, I have played the most rounds here," he said. "This is my ninth time. It's fun playing in front of the loud crowds."

Fowler appeared to have the tournament won last year, but pulled out a driver on the short par-4 17th hole, hit the ball over the green and into the water. He lost in a playoff to Matsuyama.

Those missing the cut included Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson. Thomas, the FedExCup standings leader, shot 73 for a two-round total of even-par 142. Watson shot 74 on Friday to finish at 1-over 143 for the first two days.

Luke Donald also missed the cut by finishing at even par after two rounds.

The cut line was 1-under 141.

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According to Phoenix's FOX10 television news, PGA Tour player Steven Bowditch was out on bond from the Scottsdale city jail early Friday morning after he was arrested by Scottsdale police and accused of extreme DUI. Bowditch made his 12:25 p.m. tee time but did not make the cut. He shot a 74 in both rounds to finish at 6-over.

The PGA Tour released this statement from Bowditch: "I would like to apologize to my family, friends and supporters, as well as he PGA Tour and Waste Management Phoenix incident reported today. As I intend to fully cooperate with authorities, I will not be making further comment at this stage."

NOTES: Attendance was estimated at 169,004, breaking last year's Friday record of 160,415. ... Matt Kuchar said he travels with his Olympic bronze medal, keeping it in his backpack. "It's easier to travel with than most trophies or awards. People are really moved when they get a chance to see it. Of all the tournament success I have had, the Olympic bronze has gone just as far as any."... Brendan Steele leads the field in strokes gained tee to green. He has hit 30 of 36 greens in regulation...Jon Rahm, last week's winner in San Diego, sits at 3-under.

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