Kennedy 16-under, leads by two in Japan - PGA of Australia

Kennedy 16-under, leads by two in Japan

Queenslander Brad Kennedy is 16-under through two rounds and the leader by two as he chases a fourth Japan Golf Tour title at the Golf Partner Pro-Am Tournament at Toride Kokusai Golf Club in Ibaraki.

Defying golf’s convention that it is difficult to follow up a low round with something similar, Kennedy backed up a nine-under par round of 61 on day one with a seven-under 63 on Friday to edge two clear of Yuta Ikeda (67) and Tomoharu Otsuki (64).

Kennedy’s second round featured eight birdies – including four straight from the par-4 eighth – as he completed the first two rounds in just 124 strokes.

The 47-year-old’s lone bogey came at the 15th but he swiftly redeemed himself with birdie at the 17th hole to get back to seven-under on his round.

“It’s always tricky after a good start and try to back it up. I got off to a nice start with birdies on three and four,” said Kennedy.

“Being able to get early birdies after a good start allows you to relax a bit and play really nice through the middle of the day. I made four birdies in a row from eight through 11.

“I definitely didn’t expect to be 16-under after two days, but there’s a lot of good stuff there, and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

A six-time winner on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, the most recent of Kennedy’s three wins in Japan came at the 2018 Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup and he hopes to capitalise on the two-shot advantage to help secure a long-overdue victory.

But to get there, Kennedy knows he can’t afford to play it safe and must maintain an aggressive approach into the weekend.

“There’s a lot to play for at the weekend. The course can produce very low scores,” he noted.

“Fairways are a premium here, and you got to be spot on. The greens are holding nicely, so there’s plenty of pins to attack, and everyone will do the same on the weekend.

“You can’t really stay where you are. You have to keep going forward. It’s important to maintain self-control and, at the same time, be aggressive.”

Brendan Jones (63) is the next best of the Aussies in a tie for 18th at seven-under with Andrew Evans (66) and Anthony Quayle (68) a shot further back in a tie for 32nd.

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