Sung Kang grabs big lead in Byron Nelson with record-tying 61

Sung Kang grabs big lead in Byron Nelson with record-tying 61

Brooks Koepka is still in the mix in tune-up for PGA Championship defense

Stephen Hawkins AP Sports Writer
image (Photo by Ashley Landis/Dallas Morning News via AP)
In cool, breezy conditions Jordan Spieth shot 4-under 67 but still trailed 36-hole leader Sung Kang by nine strokes.

DALLAS (AP) — Sung Kang and his caddie did some calculations on the driving range before the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson on an unseasonably cool day with some breezy conditions.

"The biggest thing was we needed to figure how shorter the ball is going to fly," Sung said. "So we just trusted the number ... just hit it, and then worked out good."

Kang was pretty much right on, matching the Trinity Forest course record with a 10-under 61 on Friday to take the lead at 16 under. He led by four strokes over playing partner Matt Every, who had his second consecutive round of 65, and Tyler Duncan (66).

Brooks Koepka, the world's No. 3-ranked player who goes to next week's PGA Championship as defending champion, was fourth at 11 under after a 66. He overcame two early bogeys with six birdies in an 11-hole stretch that included four in a row late.

"Solid round, just trying to keep pace," Koepka said. "I would like to have been in the lead. But I mean, hey, 61 today was pretty darn impressive."

Koepka was a stroke ahead of Rory Sabbatini, who had a bogey-free 65.

With temperatures in the low 50s, Kang opened with a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-5 first hole. His approach to within a foot of the cup at the 311-yard fifth set up a string of six birdies in a row.

"I don't know what the guys are talking about. Perfect and awesome and nice conditions for the course," Kang said jokingly after getting a post-round fist pump from Jordan Spieth, a member at Trinity Forest who shot 67 to get to 7 under.

Kang (photo) had three more birdies in four holes on the back nine. His only par in that stretch was at the 441-yard par-4 15th — where the 31-year-old South Korean who lives in North Texas had his putter raised in the air in anticipation of another birdie. The 21-foot chance instead caught the lip and spun out.

"My 67 doesn't look so good," the beanie-wearing Spieth said, comparing his to Kang's score. "But going out today, if you had offered me 4 under, I would have taken it."

First-round leader Denny McCarthy followed his opening 63 with a 77.

Tony Romo, the CBS NFL analyst and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and also a Trinity Forest member, was 8 over after a 74. He missed the cut, as he did in two other PGA Tour starts in the Dominican Republic, and tied for 148th in the event that began with 156 players.

The only bogey for Every came at the 606-yard 14th hole, where his tee shot settled beneath the lip of a fairway bunker. Every slung away the rake that was by the bunker when he got there. He then hit the ball, which didn't go nearly as far as the helicoptering club that he then threw in disgust.

"Nothing I can do about it except get mad and complain, which I did," he said. "Other than that, it was good."

At the par-3 17th, Every's tee shot landed on the green in a good position but rolled off and down the hill into some rough. He saved par after hitting to 8 feet.

While Every didn't get as much as he would have wanted out of those two tee shots that he called his best shots of the day, he still had an impressive round "drafting off of Sung all day, really."

After his near miss at No. 15, Kang hit his tee shot at the 382-yard 16th into a bunker, but he hit his approach to 11 feet and made birdie. He just missed a 24-foot birdie chance at the par-3 17th and finished with a 14-foot par putt to match the 61 Marc Leishman had last year in the first Nelson round played at Trinity Forest after the tournament moved from Four Seasons at Las Colinas.

Spieth again got off to a solid start before making the turn off a double bogey — at No. 9 during his opening 68 and at the 494-yard 18th on Friday, when he had an approach shot roll back down a swale toward him. He then birdied No. 1 and had three more birdies in his last five holes.

"It was nice to bounce back," said Spieth, without a top-20 finish this season and without a win since the 2017 British Open. "That's nice as you go into a weekend. Good momentum."

Romo (photo above), the only amateur in the Nelson, played on a sponsor exemption. He plans to compete in a U.S. Open local qualifying tournament next week.

After an opening 76 with a chip-in eagle, Romo had three birdies Friday that were countered by four bogeys and a double bogey.

"I think, more than anything, I got a sense to be able to hit a lot of high-quality shots under what is a pressure situation for me," Romo said. "That's encouraging and shows that the work you're doing holds up when it counts."

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