Defending champ Matsuyama trails by 1 at WMPO


Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama enters the weekend just one off the 36-hole lead shared by Byeong Hun An and Brendan Steele at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Here’s where things stand heading into the weekend at raucous TPC Scottsdale:

Leaderboard: An (-10), Steele (-10), Martin Laird (-9), Matt Kuchar (-9), Sung Kang (-9), Matsuyama (-9), Michael Kim (-7), Louis Oosthuizen (-7)

What it means: Matsuyama is chasing his fourth PGA Tour title and fifth worldwide win since October. He closed 2016 with wins in four of his final five starts, the last of which came at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The fifth-ranked player in the world now looks to become the first player to repeat as champion at this event since it moved to TPC Scottsdale in 1987. Tied for the lead, An is the youngest U.S. Amateur champion, having won in 2009 at age 17. He won the European Tour’s 2015 BMW PGA Championship and nearly picked up his first PGA Tour title at the Zurich Classic last year. Steele is looking for his second win in the last four months after taking the season-starting Safeway Open. Kuchar, the Olympic bronze medal winner, is one back, while Fowler, who lost to Matsuyama in a playoff last year and was also runner-up in 2010, lurks three behind.

Round of the day: Jonas Blixt made eight birdies and a single bogey to post 7-under 64. The 32-year-old Swede has missed five of seven cuts this season but is coming off a T-20 last week at the Farmers. He enters the weekend 4 back at 6 under par.

Best of the rest: Kang finds himself one off the lead following a second-round 65. Like Blixt, Kang has had a rocky start to his season; this is just his third made cut in nine starts.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth’s second round came to a bitter end with a double bogey at 18. Spieth’s tee shot at the home hole found the water left of the fairway, and after some debate as to whether or not the ball crossed over dry land (which would have allowed him to drop), Spieth finally decided that it didn’t. He re-teed, made par on the second ball, and signed for 3-under 68, with the double at 18 dropping him from 6 under par to 4 under par.