By Doug Ferguson
The Associated Press
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Matt Kuchar made the most of his short day at The Barclays.
Kuchar didn’t tee off until Friday afternoon at Liberty National and knew he had no chance to finish. He could barely see his ball cross the water and set up a two-putt birdie on the 13th hole that gave him the outright lead, and there was enough light coming from lower Manhattan across the Hudson River to hit his tee shot on the 14th.
The horn sounded, and by then, he was ready to go home.
Kuchar was at 10-under par with five holes remaining and had to return Saturday morning to hold his one-shot lead over Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland, who both finished the second round in the rain-delayed tournament.
Simpson had to play 29 holes — 11 holes to finish his first round in the morning, followed by his second round — and he was ready to go more. He ran off six birdies over an eight-hole stretch and had a 5-under 66.
“It’s much nicer when you’re playing well to keep playing. And when you’re playing well, you feel like you could play 40 holes in a day,” Simpson said. “My main goal ... I just wanted to get done today. It just felt nice to putt out on 9, knowing that I’ve got tonight to sleep and catch up on rest.”
Woodland was one of the last players to finish at twilight Friday, and he finished strong. Woodland, back on track after a win at the Reno-Tahoe Open three weeks ago, birdied four of his last five holes for a 64 to join Simpson in the clubhouse at 9-under 133.
“I feel ecstatic right now to be done,” Woodland said. “It was a close call coming down the stretch if we would be able to finish. Luckily, I played great today, gave myself a lot of opportunities, and I drove the ball phenomenally and rolled some putts in, especially late.”
As for Tiger Woods, he couldn’t get off the course fast enough.
Woods challenged the target set by Simpson with three birdies in five holes — he was two shots behind — and he had a pair of par 5s in front of him. He failed to make birdie on either of the par 5s, and made three bogeys out of the bunker through the 12th hole to fall off the pace. He made birdie on the 13th, the last hole he completed, but was still five shots behind Kuchar, who was in his group.
“I got off to a great start today and then lost it the middle part of the round and made too many mistakes,” Woods said.
He also said his back remained sore from what he said earlier in the week was due to a soft bed in his hotel that led to stiffness in his neck and bad.