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English tops crowded leaderboard going into weekend at Kapalua

Sentry Tournament of Champions

Harris English (right) and Justin Thomas bump fists on the Kapalua Plantation Course’s 18th green after finishing the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Friday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAPALUA — With 15 players within four shots of his lead, Harris English sees a shootout coming this weekend in the final two round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

English shot 6-under-par 67 on Friday to get to 14-under 132. He leads defending champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Collin Mori­kawa and Ryan Palmer by two shots.

Four more players are at 11 under and seven are at 10 under, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, a two-time winner here.

“Yeah, of course,” English said when asked about the shootout possibility. “I don’t think the weather’s calling for much wind the next two days and I know the scores are going to be low, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. I like the position I’m in right now. I know a lot of guys have a chance to win.

“I got to keep doing what I’m doing and keep making birdies. I think that’s going to be the name of the game for the weekend.”

The first question to English in his post-round news conference noted that 14 under was good enough to get into the three-way playoff last season that was won by Thomas over Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele, who are both three shots back.

“I know a course like this with no wind, you can go get it,” English said. “I saw some low numbers on the board coming out and I knew you got to keep the same strategy, got to keep the pedal down because these guys are going to keep making birdies behind you. So, you got to keep going, you got to take advantage of where you can, hitting the ball in the fairway a lot, wedges, par-5s, out here that you’ve got to take advantage of.

“So, I feel like I did that today and need to keep doing it on the weekend.”

Thomas played with English in Friday’s final group and fired a 4-under 69. Thomas, ranked third in the world, is now 81-under par in 22 rounds here.

“I played really well. The score didn’t show. I mean, it was clearly easier today, not as much wind, some gettable pins, but I truly don’t think I’ve ever had a round where I’ve putted it so well and nothing has gone in,” Thomas said. “I mean, I holed nothing for how well I was hitting my putts and the speed I wanted to hit them, they just weren’t going in, so that was a little frustrating.

Sergio Garcia blasts from a sand trap on the 14th hole Friday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“But at the same time I was staying positive because I kept giving myself chances — good thing is it was Friday and not Sunday and I’ve got two days to figure it out.”

Thomas also feels the weekend could see a wild finish.

“It’s definitely looking that way, but you just don’t know what the conditions and the course is going to give us and what really everybody’s going to do,” Thomas said. “I mean, this is a place where someone can go shoot 20 under on the weekend; not necessarily going to happen, but someone could run away or it could be a six- to 10-person field, so … who knows?”

Palmer is happy with where he stands after his second straight 67.

“It was a pretty solid day. It was … nothing spectacular, just solid golf. I actually putted pretty well today I thought, made a lot of putts from the 5- to 8-foot range today and stroked it nicely,” Palmer said. “Never got in trouble. Just a poor three-putt on number 7, but other than that it was 18 holes of solid golf.”

Harris English waves to the small crowd gathered on the 18th green after sinking a birdie putt. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Reed is at 11 under, tied with Schauffele, Brendon Todd and Sungjae Im.

“Obviously happy where I’m at, but it could have been a lot better,” Reed said. “There’s a lot of shots I’ve left out there, just kind of careless mistakes here and there. Or putts like that on 18 that just need to have a little bit more pace.”

Reed was counting his missed opportunities.

“I was going through the rounds earlier when I was walking up the last,” he said. “I’ve had 15 putts I’ve left short and only five that I’ve missed that have gone past the hole. So moral of the story for me this week is getting the ball to the hole.

“I’m giving myself opportunities, but I’m not just quite getting the speed, not hitting them hard enough. Even the downhillers don’t seem to have that much bite on them. I’m giving them too much credit.”

Dustin Johnson chips to the 18th green. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Schauffele bounded into contention with a dramatic eagle on the final hole, a 677-yard downhill monster. He hit his drive 376 yards, smacked his second shot 283 yards, going well past the hole, then sank a twisting, turning putt from 81 feet that found the bottom of the cup.

“Yeah, it helps. It’s always nice to finish that way,” Schauffele said. “Caddie’s happy, don’t have to go do any putting drills, so all smiles all around.”

After a tie for 22nd in his first appearance here three years ago, Schauffele has won and lost in last year’s playoff in this event.

“It’s just an awesome place to start,” he said. “Typically, you know you’ve won a tournament the previous year, obviously I snuck in this year (without a win). So, I don’t know what it is, it just kind of fits my eye.

“Usually it’s a little more windy, you got to sort of do all things in your game correctly and it’s just like, to me, it’s just a lot of fun to play because you’re on these massive hills and a ton of wind and kind of weird breaking putts, so it’s just kind of fun.”

Ryan Palmer chips to the 14th green. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Johnson, the 2013 and 2018 champion here, also has to be placed on the contenders list after his 65 matched Morikawa and Berger for the best score of the day.

Johnson is four shots back, tied with Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, Joaquin Niemann, Carlos Ortiz and Patrick Cantlay.

“I played better, but I played pretty well yesterday too, just still I think the longest putt I made is about an 8-footer and that was on 16 for par,” Johnson said. “Other than that, I mean, yeah, I hit a lot of good golf shots but most of them were four, five feet.

“So the game feels pretty good though, I hit a lot of nice iron shots and driving it pretty well and everything seems to be going pretty well and the putts just aren’t going in the hole.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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PGA SENTRY TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Friday’s Second Round

At Kapalua Plantation Course

Harris English 65-67–132 -14

Daniel Berger 69-65–134 -12

Collin Morikawa 69-65–134 -12

Ryan Palmer 67-67–134 -12

Justin Thomas 65-69–134 -12

Xander Schauffele 69-66–135 -11

Brendon Todd 68-67–135 -11

Sungjae Im 67-68–135 -11

Patrick Reed 67-68–135 -11

Dustin Johnson 71-65–136 -10

Jon Rahm 70-66–136 -10

Scottie Scheffler 70-66–136 -10

Bryson DeChambeau 69-67–136 -10

Joaquin Niemann 69-67–136 -10

Carlos Ortiz 69-67–136 -10

Patrick Cantlay 68-68–136 -10

Jason Kokrak 71-66–137 -9

Billy Horschel 71-66–137 -9

Webb Simpson 70-67–137 -9

Brian Gay 70-67–137 -9

Viktor Hovland 69-68–137 -9

Marc Leishman 69-69–138 -8

Richy Werenski 69-69–138 -8

Martin Laird 69-69–138 -8

Nick Taylor 67-71–138 -8

Sergio Garcia 67-71–138 -8

Lanto Griffin 71-68–139 -7

Kevin Na 71-68–139 -7

Cameron Champ 71-68–139 -7

Adam Scott 68-71–139 -7

Robert Streb 67-72–139 -7

Stewart Cink 71-69–140 -6

Cameron Smith 70-70–140 -6

Sebastián Muñoz 75-66–141 -5

Michael Thompson 73-68–141 -5

Abraham Ancer 70-71–141 -5

Andrew Landry 70-71–141 -5

Kevin Kisner 70-71–141 -5

Tony Finau 74-68–142 -4

Hudson Swafford 73-70–143 -3

Mackenzie Hughes 73-71–144 -2

Hideki Matsuyama 73-75–148 +2

Today’s Third-Round Tee Times

9:25 a.m.–Mackenzie Hughes, Hideki Matsuyama.

9:35 a.m.–Tony Finau, Hudson Swafford.

9:45 a.m.–Andrew Landry, Kevin Kisner.

9:55 a.m.–Michael Thompson, Abraham Ancer.

10:05 a.m.–Cameron Smith, Sebastián Muñoz.

10:15 a.m.–Robert Streb, Stewart Cink.

10:25 a.m.–Cameron Champ, Adam Scott.

10:35 a.m.–Lanto Griffin, Kevin Na.

10:45 a.m.–Nick Taylor, Sergio Garcia.

10:55 a.m.–Richy Werenski, Martin Laird.

11:05 a.m.–Viktor Hovland, Marc Leishman.

11:15 a.m.–Webb Simpson, Brian Gay.

11:25 a.m.–Jason Kokrak, Billy Horschel.

11:35 a.m.–Carlos Ortiz, Patrick Cantlay.

11:45 a.m.–Bryson DeChambeau, Joaquin Niemann.

11:55 a.m.–Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler.

12:05 p.m.–Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson.

12:15 p.m.–Brendon Todd, Sungjae Im.

12:25 p.m.–Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele.

12:35 p.m.–Collin Morikawa, Ryan Palmer.

12:45 p.m.–Harris English, Daniel Berger.

Patrick Reed has a laugh with his caddie on the first tee Friday. Reed participated in the tournament’s Aloha Friday initiative — for every piece of Hawaiian-themed apparel players wore during the second round, Sentry will donate $1,000 to charity. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

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