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Taylor gets a break and a birdie, leads by two at Waialae

By DOUG FERGUSON

The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Nick Taylor pitched in for eagle to get his round headed in the right direction, and he kept going until he finished with a good break and one last birdie for an 8-under 62 and a two-shot lead Friday in the Sony Open.

It’s still as crowded as the H-1 at the top, typical of this tournament.

Taylor gave himself at least some separation with a gap wedge to 6 feet for birdie on No. 8, and then even his worst swing of the day turned into a birdie on the par-5 ninth.

The Canadian hooked his tee shot toward the high netting of the driving range. The ball was so close to the knee-high boundary fence that his only hope was to play the shot left-handed. However, the netting that extends upward from the fence is considered a temporary immovable obstructure. Taylor was given a free drop.

He hit iron to about 50 yards short of the green leaving a good angle, and he clipped a wedge to 2 feet.

“It was a fortunate break,” Taylor said. “Easily could have probably gone under the fence, but to bounce off and get a drop was a break and it was nice to take advantage of it.”

Taylor, who won at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last year, was at 12-under 128.

Five players were two shots behind, a group that was decidedly Southern for the second leg of this Hawaii swing — Stewart Cink (63), Webb Simpson (65), Russell Henley (64), Vaughn Taylor (66) and Chris Kirk (65).

It doesn’t stop there. Fourteen players were separated by three shots going into the weekend.

Attribute that to an ideal day of a blue sky and only a light, tropical breeze on a dry course at Waialae. Taylor played in a group with Keith Mitchell, who also shot a 62. Their better-ball score was 55, with only four holes where neither of them made a birdie.

Mitchell also was right around the cut line. Birdies started dropping, and now he’s right in the mix.

Ditto for Harris English, who had at least a share of the lead after every round in his playoff victory last week at Kapalua. He opened with a 70 and was in danger of missing the cut. He shot 64 and was six back.

“I think it’s probably harder out here to make double (bogey) and there’s a lot of birdie opportunities,” Taylor said. “You can make four, five, six pars in a row and you’re probably getting lapped, especially with how the fairways are running.”

The group three shots behind included Kapalua runner-up Joaquin Niemann, Collin Morikawa and Hideki Matsuyama, who shot 28 on his second nine for a 65.

Makena Golf & Beach Club pro Eric Dugas carded a 2-over 72 to finish at 3-over 143, missing the cut by seven strokes.