Kang ties course record, builds big lead at SHO


HUMBLE, Texas – At this rate, Sung Kang’s new putter may soon end up in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Kang torched the Golf Club of Houston for the second straight day, tying the course record with a second-round 63 that broke the previous 36-hole scoring mark at the Shell Houston Open. At 16 under, Kang was six clear of his nearest competitor after the morning wave.

The 29-year-old was out early Friday, and playing on pristine greens he managed to roll in a whopping 196’8” worth of putts and has made exactly 300 feet of putts through 36 holes.

“I putted pretty good yesterday, putted really good today,” Kang said. “Plus I teed off the first off, and the greens are just pure, nobody really had them. The putter just kept making the putts.”

The only blip on Kang’s radar through two rounds came on No. 18 yesterday, when his 4-foot par putt caught a spike mark. He tapped in for an opening 65, then came back out a few hours later and carded seven birdies to go along with a 30-foot eagle on No. 8 that ballooned his advantage at the time to eight shots.

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Low scores have become a bit of a theme with Kang, who is in his third straight season on the PGA Tour after a brief stint on the Web.com circuit. He shot a 60 at Monterey Peninsula during last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, then tied a course record with a 64 at Bethpage Black during The Barclays in August.

But this particular performance comes as a bit of a surprise, considering Kang entered the week ranked No. 158 on Tour in strokes gained putting and hasn’t cracked the top 10 since the 2016 Honda Classic.

This week’s turnaround has roots in an equipment switch, as Kang ditched his longtime Scotty Cameron for a new TaylorMade Spider model that one of his friends in the equipment truck suggested he tinker with. Thus far, the swap has paid off in a big way.

“I always hit it long and straight enough, but I always have trouble with iron play and also putting,” Kang said. “My putting was not bad last year. We’ve been working so hard on my iron play. It keeps getting better. I still was hitting irons so much better, but I didn’t putt well through last week.”

Kang remains in search of his first Tour win, and now is in position for what might be a life-changing collection of prizes: seven-figure check, two-year exemption and of course the final spot in the Masters next week.

“It’s not in my head. I’ll go play,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens.”