Matsuyama shatters Medinah’s course record: 63!

Writing from Medinah, Illinois

Friday, August 16, 2019

Now it’s getting silly.

Hideki Matsuyama birdied half the holes on Medinah No. 3 on Friday and scored a course-record 9-under-par 63, breaking the previous competitive mark by two strokes. And he parred the par-5s on the back nine en route to the record and the 36-hole lead in the BMW Championship.

Kevin Tway shot 5-under 67 with two bogeys.

Tommy Fleetwood shot 6-under 66 with two bogeys.

Hey, GPS, are you sure this is Medinah Country Club’s big course? The one nicknamed “the Monster” during the run of U.S. Opens the layout hosted?

No disrespect to our friends in Silvis, but the numbers on the scoreboard shout TPC Deere Run, not Medinah.

There’s good reason for the barrage of birdies, of course. Today’s player is skilled beyond reason, and bolstered by a battery of swing and psychological coaches who attend to his every need. His clubs are selected not only for loft and swingweight, but how the shaft reacts at various points in the swing, all to achieve the maximum velocity at the proper launch angle for liftoff.

It’s enough to make you think Golf Channel should be replaced by NASA TV in the next television deal with the PGA Tour. Brandel Chamblee, meet the ghost of Jules Bergman.

The combination of skill, support and technology – to say nothing of agronomy, for Medinah’s lush fairways and greens are beautiful enough to hang in the Art Institute – adds up to low numbers every week on the American tour. Even at Medinah, whose reputation took a dent in the 1990 U.S. Open, when records for rounds under par were set for that storied championship, these numbers are insanely low. The members are going to wonder which holes Matsuyama skipped.

For the record, he birdied the first, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, 12th, 13th, 17th and 18th holes. On the last two holes, he made 23- and 30-foot putts for a deuce and a three, respectively. That contributed to the 165 feet, 8 inches of putts he made during the round. That averages out to making a 9-foot, 2-inch putt on each hole.

“I wish I knew why I putted so well today,” Matsuyama said through an interpreter. “I have seen and received a lot of advice – good advice – from some real good putting professional and I’m starting to get that feeling back that I had three years ago when I putted well.

“And I’m happy about that.”

The toil earned Matsuyama a two-round aggregate of 12-under 132 and a one-stroke lead on Patrick Cantlay (5-under 67) and Tony Finau (6-under 66) entering Saturday’s third round. All three players were bogey-free on Friday, as were four others.

Cantlay added his 67 to an opening 66 for a near-painless 11-under 133. He’s bogey-free his last 30 holes, and was unbothered by a wind shift from north to south.

“It turned almost 180 degrees back in our face compared to yesterday,” Cantlay said. “Some of the par-5s are gettable and then a hole like (par-5) 14 is a lot more difficult. I think the golf course is so good there’s not a particular wins where the golf course is worse or better.

The only problem for Cantlay came when he splashed his tee shot on the par-4 15th. A drop and pitch from 35 yards to eight feet allowed him to save par.

“Gave me some nice momentum to close out the round,” Cantlay said.

Finau did most of his birdie work on the front nine, with four birds there and only a pair on the inward half. Hitting all but two fairways was the key.

“I think it’s a great driving golf course,” Finau said. “It looks pretty good to me off the tee and I’m a very visual player, very creative player. I think that plays a big part of the story.

“The rough is long enough you’ve got to hit it in the fairway.”

There is rough on No. 3, not that the leaders have seen much of it. 

It’s a new track record

While Brent Geiberger, son of Al “Mr. 59” Geiberger and the erstwhile coach of Pepperdine’s men’s team, scored 63 in informal play a few years ago, Matsuyama’s 63 surpassed the competitive record on No. 3 by two strokes. Skip Kendall posted a 65 in the second round of the 1999 PGA Championship. It was matched by Tiger Woods and Mike Weir in the third round of the 2006 PGA, and Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak on Thursday.

Way back in 1930, Harry Cooper scored 7-under 63 on the original 6,200-yard version of No. 3, from which only about five holes survive. It was extensively reworked by Tom Bendelow in 1932 and the record book was reset. Nobody scored better than 67 until after the 1986-87 remodeling that essentially created the No. 3 of today.

Matsuyama said he had no idea a course record was his, even with a par, at the last.

“Honestly, I thought I pushed that putt but somehow it found the bottom of the cup,” he said. 

Around Medinah

Crowds jammed the course on Friday, with perhaps 35,000 on hand. Those in the throng watching Tiger Woods saw him score 1-under 71 for 2-under 142, 10 strokes behind Matsuyama. … The course average of 70.348 was more than a stroke higher than Thursday’s 69.275. Pin positions weren’t measurably more difficult but the wind was higher, averaging 12 mph much of the day and gusting to 22 mph at times. … Even the wind didn’t prevent Rory McIlroy from slapping a 3-wood 284 yards into the wind to the par-5 14th green to set up a two-putt birdie. “It’s 15 degrees (loft) but I can get some pretty good numbers out to it.” .. The upwind par-5 fifth, a 524-yard test, averaged 4.435 strokes, yielding three eagles, 34 birdies, and a solitary bogey by Graeme McDowell. … Joaquin Niemann bounced back from his opening 2-over 74 with a 7-under 65 and is tied for 25th at 5-under 139. … Only six players are over par, a group including Shane Lowry, the British Open champion. He’ll be the first man off the tee on Saturday, at 7:25 a.m.

Tim Cronin


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« Thomas' 61 tames Medinah's monster | Main | Furyk holds his own with the kids »