A marathon day at the US Senior PGA Championship ended with Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota out in front with Ireland’s Des Smyth leading the European challenge in a share of 15th place.
He lies at two under par with two holes left to play at Valhalla Golf Club, one ahead of Roger Chapman, the highlight og his round coming with an eagle on the 18th.
Smyth, who opened with a two under par 70, dropped two shots early on after starting on the tenth before birdies at 15 and 16 got him back on an even keel and nine pars followed before darkness brought an end to the day with the Irishman still needed to finish his last two holes.
Japan’s Murota fired a five under 67 to get to 11 under for the tournament and a four-shot advantage over Nick Price (67-70) and Hale Irwin (69-68), who will turn 66 next week.
“Today I felt really great,” Murota said through a translator. “The course conditions were excellent. The wind was at a minimum and I tried to do my best and I've been successful. And I'm so gratified.”
Murota teed off late Friday afternoon, came straight out of the blocks with back-to-back birdies on the first two holes and made the turn at three under. The excellent play continued on the back side, as Murota picked up birdies at the tenth, 13th, 17th and 18th, all after superb approach shots that set up putts inside of ten feet.
About one-third of the field will need to finish their second rounds on Saturday morning, beginning at 7:30 since play was suspended due to darkness at 8:22 p.m. Friday. After that, the cut will be made and the third round will begin at approximately 10:55 a.m.
Much warmer temperatures – nearly in the 90s – with plenty of sunshine are in the forecast for the weekend.