Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo says the secret to Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Japan is the weather.
“If it’s good weather,” he said, “I enjoy playing out here.”
Well, the sun was shining again in the Land of the Rising Sun but Mother Nature drew up tricky conditions on Friday that were no treat. Grillo and many of the players in the 78-man field were left blowing in the wind.
“The last nine, 10 holes, I just had to grind really hard,” said Grillo, who was pleased to shoot 1-over 71.
Blustery conditions made it the type of the day that separates the men from the boys during the second round of the Zozo Championship in Arazai, 25 minutes northeast of Tokyo in the Chiba Prefecture.
“That was one of the windiest rounds of golf I’ve had all year, for sure. That was tough,” said Cam Davis. “I hit my shortest drive of the year probably by 40 yards on the last hole. I can remember the last time I hit driver, driver on a par-4 and still came up short of the green.”
Former Tour pro Graham DeLaet, who is serving as Golf Channel’s lead analyst this week, said, “You know it’s windy when your chips are being effected by it. Those are the days if you’re playing your home golf course you just take the day off.”
Only 13 players in the field managed to break par and Ben Taylor signed for 84. But the wind didn’t seem to bother American Beau Hossler, who shot the low round of the day, a 65, to improve to 7-under 133 and grab a one-stroke lead at the midway point.
“Playing in whatever, easily 20- to 30-mile an hour winds today was certainly a challenge,” Hossler said. “I’d say anything under par was a really quality score, so to shoot 5 under par was incredible.”
“It just kind of kept on gusting,” added Justin Suh, who was a stroke behind Hossler after 36 holes. “You’d get one every five minutes that would come like 40 miles an hour and it was pretty insane.”
With a forecast for high winds, the PGA Tour staff didn’t cut the greens between rounds in hopes of slowing the speed and for good reason.
“It was very necessary,” Suh said.
Three converted par 5s into par 4s – Nos. 4, 9 and 12 – played into a southwest wind direction meaning all of them played dead into the wind, making par a good score. “I tried to take the attitude that a four was like a birdie on those holes,” Hossler said.
But the conditions got the better of Hideki Matsuyama, who made consecutive double…