HONOLULU – Chris Kirk in the lead may have been the only bit of normality in the second round of the Sony Open.
Jordan Spieth kicked off Friday with a share of the lead. He came off the 18th green in Waialae in a bit of a shock after missing the cut.
“I felt like I had a really bad deck today,” said Spieth, the first player since Matt Every at Bay Hill in 2020 to go from taking an 18-hole lead to getting out early. “It was a strange, strange day.”
Full results from the Sony Open in Hawaii
He had a 5-over 75 after opening with 64.
Rory Sabbatini birdied the 18th hole this morning and was one step away from the lead as he headed for the top nine. He hit his tee shot off the court. Double bogey. He drove his car into the water on number 2. Double bogey. He pulled his second shot at number 3 into the same water and got the same result. He shot 41 on the last nine for 74 and missed the cut by 1.
JJ Spaun had a happier time until the end when one wrong swing sent his tee shot into the channel on par 9 ninth, leading to a bogey on the easiest hole in Waialae. He still shot 64 and was one shot behind.
But imagine turning up at the first tee of a PGA Tour event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and seeing your high school principal looking at you. Rita Kear, a retiree from San Dimas High School, was on vacation with her husband.
“I saw her on the first jersey and thought, ‘Oh my god, is that Mrs Kear? Of course it is, Spaun said. “Small world.”
Weird worldly Friday, at least away from wild, wacky Waikiki.
Kirk only fired one shot in his 5-under 65 round, making him 11-under 129, giving him a one-shot advantage over Spaun and Taylor Montgomery, the PGA Tour rookie, who is playing his eighth tournament of the season and has only dropped out of the top 15 once.
He’s polite to the limit, so listening to Montgomery talk about his teenage years in Las Vegas and his time supporting Shadow Creek and talking nonsense about Michael Jordan (it didn’t end well for Montgomery) was hard to imagine. On the other hand, it was on par with Friday’s rate in Waialae.
Kirk was one of the uplifting stories from the Sony Open two years ago. He left golf to seek treatment for alcoholism and depression. He received a medical extension and the Sony Open was his last chance to keep a full card. He did so by closing with 65 to tie for second place.
Kirk was one of the tiebreakers as he entered the second round. He birdied the first three holes, and apart from a bogey on number 6, he didn’t have much pressure. However, he can appreciate the difficulty of staying fit from day to day.
“It’s so hard to be great at this game professionally from the mental side,” he said. “I don’t know if I did a good job today or not, but luckily I did it with the last nine. I always remind myself that pressure is a privilege when you start to feel a little nervous.
Spieth wasn’t sure how he felt. He was even in the mix for a day when he went from brutal to funky lying in the bunker. Next was the ninth par 5, which is the easiest birdie on the field until the ball flies straight into the canal.
With his left foot in the wheelchair path, he made a drop near the red hazard line. For further relief, he would bring a tree into play, but then he worried his left foot would slip and his ball wouldn’t fade as he wanted. It was a mess and he had to make a 10-foot bogey putt.
It seemed to go on all day.
“I’ve never hosted a tournament before and missed the cut,” said Spieth. “I just got the ball in the wrong places in the wrong places.”
The cut won’t officially be done until Saturday morning as darkness has again prevented everyone from finishing. But it will be 2-under 138. Davis Thompson was 2-under and faced an eagle strike from just 60 feet away. Unless he 4-putts, he’ll be around for the weekend. Given how Friday went, it was probably a good idea to wait.