Kisner leads WGC-HSBC Champions by 2; DJ 6 back

Kevin Kisner continued his assault on Sheshan International GC on Friday, backing up his opening-round 64 with a 66 that gave him a two-shot lead midway through the WGC-HSBC Champions. Here’s how things stand going into the weekend in Shanghai.

Leaderboard: Kevin Kisner (-14), Russell Knox (-12), Branden Grace (-10), Patrick Reed (-9), Haotong Li (-9), Bernd Wiesberger (-8), Dustin Johnson (-8), Hunter Mahan (-8)

What it means: Kisner, 31, a member of the Tour’s large University of Georgia contingent, is looking for his first PGA Tour win. He’s come close – he’s been in three playoffs this year – the RBC Heritage, The Players Championship and The Greenbrier Classic – but lost all three times. Seven players are within six shots of Kisner, including nine-time Tour winner Dustin Johnson, who won this event in 2013 before taking time off to deal with personal issues (or to serve a suspension, depending on which reports you believe). Johnson looked to be on his way to playing himself out of contention Friday until he birdied his final three holes to salvage a 71 and keep Kisner in his sights.

Round of the day: Scotsman Russell Knox had the day’s low round, a bogey-free, 7-under 65 that left him two shots behind Kisner. Although Knox hasn’t finished better than T-21 in three events this season, he has been in the 60s in eight of 12 rounds.

Best of the rest: Kisner and Bernd Wiesberger, who is tied for sixth, both shot 66. Kisner was strong late on both nines, stringing birdies together on Nos. 6, 7 and 8, then adding circles on the drivable par-4 16th and the par-5 18th. Wiesberger was a model of symmetry, with three birdies on each nine.

Biggest disappointment: Had DJ not birdied his final three holes, this dubious honor would have fallen to him. Instead we’ll go with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, who both shot 72 to drop 10 shots off the pace.

Main storyline heading into the weekend: Moving day could see Kisner further distance himself from the field, or it could see the chase pack close in on him. If the latter happens, the most intriguing suspects are Johnson, Branden Grace (currently four back) and Patrick Reed (five back).

Quote of the day: “I’m sure I’ll run into some problems sooner or later. I just hope I can keep holing those putts for par and keep the pedal down.” – Kisner


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