Matt Kuchar had to make birdies just to keep pace with all the low scoring around him at Liberty National. Only when his short day at The Barclays ended was he able to sit back and enjoy the view.
And what a view it was.
One moment, it was so dark on the par-5 13th hole that Kuchar could barely see his second shot clear the water and land on the green, setting up a two-putt birdie that put him atop the leaderboard Friday evening. He thought there was no way to continue. He waited for the horn to sound that would stop play.
But as he walked beyond a row of trees to the par-3 14th, the sky brightened.
Attribute that to the electricity emanating from lower Manhattan across the Hudson River.
“Coming out over the water, it brightened up by a good margin. It’s actually a beautiful skyline,” Kuchar said. “I think when the sun sets coming off, it was a nice little place to be this time of night.”
Even better was his position atop the leaderboard at 10-under par, though work remains.
Kuchar was among those who had to return this morning to complete the second round in the rain-delayed tournament. He had five holes remaining to keep the one-shot lead over Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland, who both finished the second round. Only 18 players who teed off in the afternoon managed to finish.
Simpson had to play 29 holes — 11 holes to finish his first round in the morning, followed by his second round — and he was ready to go more. He ran off six birdies over an eight-hole stretch and had a 5-under 66.
Woodland was one of the last players to finish at twilight Friday, and he finished strong. Woodland, back on track after a win at the Reno-Tahoe Open three weeks ago, birdied four of his last five holes for a 64 to join Simpson in the clubhouse at 9-under 133.
As for Tiger Woods, he couldn’t get off the course fast enough.
Woods challenged the target set by Simpson with three birdies in five holes — he was two shots behind — and he had a pair of par 5s in front of him. He failed to make birdie on either, and made three bogeys out of the bunker through the 12th hole to fall off the pace. He made birdie on the 13th, the last hole he completed, but was still five shots behind Kuchar, who was in his group.
“I got off to a great start today and then lost it the middle part of the round and made too many mistakes,” Woods said.
He also said his back remained sore from what he said earlier in the week was due to a soft bed in his hotel that led to stiffness in his neck and back. He said the pain increased throughout the round and when asked if a specific shot made it hurt, he replied, “Every one.”
Keegan Bradley set the tournament course record with a 63 and was at 7-under 135, along with Rickie Fowler (64) and Adam Scott, who was tied for the lead at one point until a lazy finish for a 66.
Phil Mickelson, trying to retool his game after his British Open win, had a 69 and was seven shots behind the clubhouse lead.
LPGA: Top-ranked Inbee Park shot a 5-under 65 for a share of the second-round lead with playing partner Cristie Kerr in the Canadian Women’s Open in Edmonton, Alberta.
Park, the South Korean star who swept the first three majors of the season and has six LPGA Tour victories this season, had seven birdies and two bogeys at Royal Mayfair to match Kerr at 8-under 132.
Kerr, coming off the United States’ loss to Europe in the Solheim Cup, shot her second straight 66. She won the Kingsmill Championship in May for her 16th career LPGA Tour title.
Angela Stanford and France’s Karine Icher were a stroke back.
Ko was 6 under after a 69. Paula Creamer and 49-year-old Laura Davies also were 6 under. Davies had a 66, and Creamer shot 68. Charley Hull, the 17-year-old English player, was 5 under after a 66.
CHAMPIONS: Bart Bryant got off to a fast start in his bid to win consecutive Champions Tour titles, shooting a 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the Boeing Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash.
Bryant had eight birdies and two bogeys at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, five days after winning the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y., for his first victory in his rookie season on the 50-and-over tour.
Duffy Waldorf and Bobby Clampett shot 67, and Bernhard Langer, Dick Mast and Kirk Triplett followed at 68. Langer tied the course record with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.
PGA EUROPEAN: Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez shot his second straight 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead in the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Championship in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Gonzalez birdied his final five holes on the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course, the site of the Ryder Cup next year.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger was second after a 66.