Harman extends good play in Hawaii, takes Sony Open lead

HONOLULU (AP) — Different islands, vastly different golf courses, same good play from Brian Harman.

One week after Harman shared the 36-hole lead at Kapalua, he ran off three straight birdies and closed with a 15-foot eagle putt for a 7-under 63 and a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the Sony Open.

Harman was at 13-under 127, and no one could catch him on Friday afternoon.

Chris Kirk, who shared the 18-hole lead with Harman, opened by pitching in from 25 yards for eagle on No 10. He ended his day by driving into the canal on the easy par-5 ninth and making bogey for a 67.

Kirk was three behind along with Zach Johnson (67), John Peterson (64), Tom Hoge (65) and PGA Tour rookie Talor Gooch.

Brian Harman putts on the 13th green during the second round of the Sony Open golf tournament. – AP

Except for the tropical warmth, the two golf courses on the Hawaii swing are nothing alike. The Plantation Course at Kapalua was built on the side of the mountain on the west tip of Maui and features fairways that can stretch nearly 90 yards wide and big slopes in the greens.

Waialae is at sea level — waist-high hedges along the 16th and 17th holes and behind the 11th green are all that separate grass from the beach — with smaller, flatter greens and fairways framed by trees.

“The biggest elevation change here is from the walk down from the hotel,” Harman said. “I’ve always kind of felt like as long as there’s fairways and greens and holes to putt it, then I’m going to be fine.”

The Georgia native is playing just as well on Oahu as he did on Maui.

He surged ahead in the morning with two quick birdies on the back nine, made the turn in 32 and ran off three straight birdies early on the front nine.

After making his only bogey from a bunker on the par-3 seventh, Harman hit 7-iron from 172 yards to 15 feet on No 9 for a closing eagle.

It’s all just golf to him.

“I’m making putts, but I’m also putting myself in position to make those putts,” he said.

“I’m getting a bunch of looks. I’m not making everything I’m looking at, but I’m hitting a lot of good putts and made a few. I’m just going to show up tomorrow and try to hit the first tee shot best you can and go from there.”

On another glorious day of sunshine and good scoring conditions, Johnson had a nine-hole stretch of eight pars and a bogey until a strong finish. He birdied the par-3 seventh and closed with an eagle to salvage a 67.

Defending champion Justin Thomas was closer to the cut line than the lead until he made a trio of 8-foot putts — two for birdies, one for eagle — to close out a 67. He was seven shots behind.

Jordan Spieth made the longest putt of his PGA Tour career — just over 90 feet on No 5 — but didn’t give himself many good looks. Spieth birdied the last hole for a 68 and was 10 shots behind.

“I didn’t think I had enough club,” Spieth said of his long putt. “I considered hitting a lob wedge because I had something like 30 yards to the hole into the breeze.”

The putt looked good all the way, though it had some pace. There was some debate among his two playing partners, Xander Schauffele and Daniel Berger, along with caddie Michael Greller on what would have happened had the ball not slammed into the back of the cup.

“Xander said it was four or five feet by. Michael said six,” Spieth said. “Berger said off the green.”

Schauffele birdied his last four holes and was among those at 8-under 132, five shots behind.

The cut was at 2-under 138.