MIAMI: Americans Harris English and Matt Kuchar fired an 11-under par 61 in Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) modified alternate shot session to seize a five-stroke lead after two rounds at the 32nd QBE Shootout.

01 Harris English left and Matt Kuchar - Birdie runs lift English and Kuchar to Shootout lead
Americans Harris English (left) and Matt Kuchar AFP PHOTO

The US duo opened with five straight birdies, parred the next six holes and then birdied six in a row from the par-3 12th through the par-5 17th before a closing par to stand on 25-under 119 after 36 holes at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

“Had the driver going today,” English said. “He had a lot of wedge shots and he’s one of the best on tour at that and I got hot with the putter.

“It felt pretty easy for that alternate shot format.”

Americans Kevin Na and Sean O’Hair, who fired a 56 to lead after Friday’s scramble, were second on 124.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson of the United States shot 66 to share third on 126 with Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and American Lanto Griffin.

Defending champions Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia and Kevin Tway of the United States were another stroke back in fifth alongside Americans Tony Finau and Cameron Champ.

The three-day event, played among 12 pairs with no spectators due to the Covid-19 pandemic, concludes with a Sunday four-ball round.

Kuchar was pleased at the pair’s sizzling start, which allowed them to overtake O’Hair and Na quickly and seize the lead, then withstand the run of pars before the back-nine birdie binge.

“You take birdies where they come,” Kuchar said. “It’s about keeping the pedal down and we did a good job of that today.”

They had a chance to birdie the last but English lipped out from seven feet, leaving Kuchar the final tap-in.

Na and O’Hair opened with four pars and a bogey at the par-3 fifth, answered with birdies at six and seven and added birdies at 11, 13 and 15 to hang onto second ahead of the charging international duos.

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