With the PGA Tour on hiatus, a duel could be shaping up halfway around the world between two of the game's rising stars.
Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth are among several high-profile participants in the Dunlop Phoenix this week on the Japan Golf Tour, and the two went shot-for-shot Friday in carding matching rounds of 7-under 64. After two rounds in Miyazaki, Matsuyama holds a one-shot lead at 10 under while Spieth is tied for second alongside In-Hoi Hur.
Matsuyama and Spieth - whose combined age of 43 is one less than that of Phil Mickelson - both have one PGA Tour title to their credit. Spieth won the 2013 John Deere Classic and followed it with a successful sophomore season that included a runner-up at the Masters, while Matsuyama claimed the Memorial Tournament this summer in a playoff over Kevin Na.
Matsuyama led the field in driving distance during the second round, and capped his day with an eagle on the par-5 18th. He made only one bogey Friday, and a victory this week would mark his sixth on the Japan Golf Tour - and fifth in the last 19 months.
Spieth's second-round scorecard was almost identical: an eagle on No. 18, with six other birdies against just a lone bogey. After a T-35 finish two weeks ago at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Spieth's 64 was his lowest worldwide round since a 64 in the second round of the John Deere Classic in July.
Other notable players in the field in Japan include Webb Simpson, who has switched to a conventional-length putter this week with the anchoring ban looming in 2016, and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. The two are tied for 47th through two rounds, 11 shots behind Matsuyama, as Fernandez-Castano bounced back from a poor opening round while Simpson struggled to a 2-over 73 that included four bogeys and a double bogey.