Medinah, Ill. — Hideki Matsuyama has never missed the Tour Championship since his first full year on the PGA Tour. He played Friday like he doesn’t want the streak to end.
Outside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup for the first time at the BMW Championship, Matsuyama made five birdie putts from 15 feet or longer and broke the course record at Medinah with a 9-under 63 for a one-shot lead going into the weekend.
He started his second round with a 30-foot birdie putt. He ended the round with a 30-foot birdie putt.
The explanation for what went right wasn’t that long.
“I did make a lot of long putts today, and that was the difference,” Matsuyama said through his interpreter.
That was a big difference for Tiger Woods, too. He made only two putts longer than 6 feet, made a pair of bogeys from the bunkers late in the round and had to settle for another 71. Woods, who needs a top 10 to advance to the Tour Championship, was tied for 49th.
“I left quite a few shots out there,” Woods said.
Matsuyama was at 12-under 132, one shot ahead of Patrick Cantlay (67) and Tony Finau (66). Justin Thomas made six birdies to offset three bogeys in his round of 69, leaving him two shots behind.
Cantlay, Finau and Thomas are all assured of being among the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship, where everyone in the field will have a shot at winning the FedEx Cup and the $15 million prize.
Matsuyama won four times on the Japan Golf Tour as a rookie after he graduated college, and then won the Memorial in 2014 and narrowly got into the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake. He was as high as No. 2 in the world just two years ago after the U.S. Open.
But he has gone two years without winning, and Friday was the first time he has led after any round since his most recent victory at Firestone in the Bridgestone Invitational.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in contention,” Matsuyama said. “Hopefully, I can play well. I’ve been struggling for a while this year. Hopefully, that can turn around and I’ll have a good weekend.”
Cantlay has gone 36 holes at Medinah with only one bogey, and key to his round was avoid one late. His tee shot on the 320-yard 15th caught enough of the wind that bounded right into the water. He took his penalty dropped, chipped to 8 feet and saved par, got up-and-down on the next hole and then finished with two more good putts, one for birdie and another for par.
“Any time you make a par after hitting the ball in the water it’s good,” he said. “It gave me some nice momentum to close out the round.”
Lucas Glover (69) and Rory Sabbatini (68) were among the group at 9-under 135, both suddenly in range of the top 30.
In Endicott, N.Y., Miguel Angel Jimenez birdied three of the final six holes for a 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with Monday qualifier Doug Barron in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Jimenez had eight birdies and a bogey at En Joie Golf Club. He won the Chubb Classic in February in Florida for his seventh senior title.
Lake Orion’s Tom Gillis shot 70 and was tied for 25th.
In Pinehurst, N.C., Cohen Trolio, Andy Ogletree, John Augenstein and William Holcomb advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur.
In Columbus, Ohio, in the first event of the Korn Ferry finals, Petoskey’s Joey Garber was at 2 under and tied for 24th in his bid to keep his PGA card.