The Open Diary: Santa, is that Pugh?

By Sports Desk July 16, 2021

It was moving day at The Open Championship on Friday but the sunshine refused to budge.

While Louis Oosthuizen recovered the overnight lead that he had lost to Collin Morikawa earlier in the day, a few fans' favourites ensured they will be around at the weekend.

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry both did enough to make the cut and world number one Dustin Johnson surged up the leaderboard.

But our man on the ground also had an eye on events on the fringes of the action...

BUTTER FINGERS!

When the players walk off the 18th green they pass under the grandstand that surrounds the putting surface.

Above them will often be a gaggle of fans trying to get their attention so they might throw a golf ball their way.

But when that chance comes you have to be ready to take it, and one young fan's hopes were dashed when Tommy Fleetwood tossed a ball within his grasp but he let it slip.

When a marshal picked it up to throw it back to the waiting fans, it was a different young hopeful who managed to seize the opportunity.

MERRY CHRISTMAS?

Lucas Herbert's caddie had fans in a festive mood, despite it being the middle of July.

Nick Pugh sports a bushy white beard and, as he made his way from the 15th green to the 16th tee, one cheeky fan asked if the jovial Scot had received his Christmas list.

Pugh saw the funny side and retorted: "Ho ho ho!"

BEERY ME...

They are not compulsory, but some spectators are choosing to wear face masks in these coronavirus times.

That is all well and good, but it's important to remove your mask before attempting to drink your beer.

One fan probably won't need to learn that lesson again after inducing much mirth following a botched attempt to take a swig from his pint with his face mouth covered.

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  • Henley leads by two shots as Matsuyama surges up leaderboard Henley leads by two shots as Matsuyama surges up leaderboard

    Russell Henley remains in the lead ahead of the final day of the Sony Open in Hawaii but 2021 Masters Championship winner Hideki Matsuyama surged into contention on Saturday.

    Henley carded a three-under-round of 67 to maintain his lead after being three strokes ahead at the halfway mark at the Waialae Country Club.

    Japanese 29-year-old Matsuyama, though, moved up the leaderboard into second spot, two shots behind Henley, with a seven-under-63 to be 16 under overall.

    Henley leads at 18 under, with Matsuyama 16 under, before four players are tied at 14 under in third in Adam Svensson, Seamus Power, Matt Kuchar and Haotong Li.

    The American, who won the Sony Open in 2013, had two bogeys and five birdies in his round, including a 16-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to buffer his lead after Matsuyama made his move earlier in the day.

    Matsuyama, who carded rounds of 66 and 65 on the first two days, improved with a day-three 63 headlined by four birdies in his final seven holes.

    Svensson and Power both hit five-under-rounds of 65 to remain in contention, while Kuchar and Li are close but carded rounds of three-under and two-under to fail to close on Henley.

  • Former champion Henley hits two eagles to claim three-stroke lead at Sony Open Former champion Henley hits two eagles to claim three-stroke lead at Sony Open

    American Russell Henley holds a three-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Sony Open in Hawaii after a seven-under-63 on Friday.

    Henley, who won the Sony Open in 2013, carded an eight-under-62 on the opening day and backed that up to be 15-under and three shots ahead of second-placed Haotong Li.

    Li along with third-placed Matt Kuchar and equal fourth Chris Kirk all carded rounds of five-under-65.

    Kirk is one of 10 players tied for fourth alongside Seamus Power, Stewart Cink, Corey Conners, Adam Svensson, Keita Nakajima, Davis Riley, Dylan Wu, Brandt Snedeker, Payton Kizzire and 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama.

    Henley's seven-under-63 was a round-best alongside Cink and Charles Howell III who both surged up the leaderboard.

    The 32-year-old American had an even card on the second round before holing a bunker shot for eagle on the 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day.

    Henley came home strong with four birdies and an eagle in his final six holes, including a 29-foot eagle putt. He has three PGA Tour titles across his career, the last being in 2017.

    Veteran Jim Furyk dropped well off the pace after his fast start, with a two-over-round of 72 leaving him six under at halfway, while day one leader Kevin Na slipped to eight under after a round of one-over-71.

  • Jim Furyk in Sony Open contention after hole-in-one Jim Furyk in Sony Open contention after hole-in-one

    Jim Furyk rolled back the years with a hole-in-one at the Sony Open to finish the opening round in Hawaii one shot behind leader and defending champion Kevin Na.

    The 51-year-old, who has 17 PGA Tour victories to his name, sunk the perfect shot on the par-three 17th on his way to finishing eight under on Thursday.

    Furyk was hampered by a slow start at Wai'alae Country Club with a bogey on the opening hole, though that proved to be the American's only dropped shot in a round of 62.

    That makes Furyk the oldest player to shoot 62 or better on the PGA Tour since 1983 as he looks to win the tournament for a second time, 26 years on from his previous triumph.

    "I'm trying to get ready for this year. I want to be competitive this week," said Furyk, who made the sixth hole-in-one of his career and first since 2011.

    "I want to compete and put myself in position, in the hunt, and also want to get a feel for where my game is and what I want to work on for the year."

    Furyk will resume day two level with compatriot Russell Henley and a stroke behind blemish-free Na, who is aiming to defend the crown he won last year.

    Na was on course for a sub-60 round, but three good birdie chances passed him by and he now has seven challengers within two shots of his lead.

    The South Korean settled for 61 to tie his career-low round on the PGA Tour. He leads the way for the most rounds-of-62 or better since such data was first recorded in 1983 (10).

    Na, Furyk and Henley are three of six past Sony Open winners in the top 10 after day one, along with Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire (both six under) and Ryan Palmer (seven under).

    Elsewhere, Cameron Smith could not build on his record-breaking win at last week's Sentry Tournament of Champions as a couple of bogeys left him three-under par in a tie for 40th.

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