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Justin Suh leads Honda Classic by one as Chris Kirk fires 8-under 62 to climb into second

Honda Classic leader Justin Suh blasts out of a bunker on the 16th hole in the second round.Sam Greenwood/Getty

There have been about 7,200 rounds played at the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 17 years ago.

Only two of those were better than the one turned in Friday by Chris Kirk.

Kirk shot an 8-under-par 62 in the second round, moving him to 9 under for the week and one shot behind Justin Suh (64) at the tournament’s midway point. Kirk had an eagle and six birdies, hitting 16 greens and taking advantage of no wind blowing in the morning — very rare for PGA National.

“Usually we’re playing for 15-, 20-plus yards of hurt going into the wind shots, and 15, 20 yards of help on downwind shots,” Kirk said. “It’s really difficult to get those just right when it’s really windy. But today there was hardly a breath most of the round, and so it became a little bit more target practice.”

Suh had four consecutive birdies on holes 8 through 11, rolling in putts from 5, 15, 25, and 30 feet in that span, to post a 36-hole total of 10-under 130.


“I think we’ve been trending in the right direction,” Suh said. “Every week I’ve been improving and just certain spots, and I think it’s gratifying just to see the progressive work pay off.”

There was no shortage of players taking dead aim. Ryan Gerard (63) and Ben Taylor (65) were tied for third at 8 under. Ben Martin (64), Eric Cole (66) and Brice Garnett (64) were all another shot back.

“Anything around here around that’s par or below, you can’t be too upset about,” said US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, who celebrated his 47th birthday with a 67 to get to 5 under for the week.

Gerard was a Monday qualifier. This is only his second PGA Tour event as a pro, and his first made cut.


“I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” Gerard said. “This is my dream ever since I was a little kid, just playing PGA Tour events. I’m still on the road there, not officially made it yet, but I just really enjoy playing golf. I love everything about it. I love the competition. I love challenging myself. I love playing against the best players and seeing how I stack up.”

Shane Lowry shot his second consecutive 68, highlighted by a 57-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th — his ball staying on-line even after rolling over another player’s coin on its way to the hole.

LPGA — Natthakritta Vongtaveelap finished strongly with six birdies on the back nine to take a one-shot lead over Maja Stark after a 7-under 65 in the second round at the LPGA Thailand in Pattaya.

The 20-year-old Thai had two birdies against a bogey on the front nine holes before six more birdies, including four straight on Nos. 12-15, for 12-under 132 overall at Siam Country Club.

“I played according to my game plan even though I didn’t putt the way I would have wanted at the front nine,” said Vongtaveelap, who earned her tour card through Q-School last December. “But after I started making birdies at the back, I was getting more and more confident.”

She has won all three events she has competed in this season, including two on a local tour.


“Of course I’m confident with my game now but other players have more experience than I do,” Vongtaveelap said.

Stark had an error-free 67.

Nelly Korda (66) had an eagle on the 10th along with five birdies and a bogey to share third on 10 under with Celine Boutier (66), Emily Kristine Pedersen (67), Jaravee Boonchant (69), and Jenny Shin (68).

LIV Golf League — Paul Casey birdied his last three holes for a 6-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak as the second season of Saudi-funded LIV Golf began at Mayakoba in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

Casey was 5 under through 10 holes before he lost ground with a double bogey on the par-4 second hole. He responded with a hat trick of birdies to close out his round on the El Camaleon golf course at the resort south of Cancun.

Kokrak played bogey-free, chipping in for one birdie and holing a couple of lengthy putts.

They were two shots clear of Peter Uihlein, Talor Gooch and Carlos Ortiz, one of two Mexican players who are part of the 48-man LIV roster.

Mayakoba previously hosted a PGA Tour event in the fall from 2007 until November, when the resort moved over to LIV Golf.

European — Yannik Paul extended his lead to five strokes after two rounds of the Indian Open on the European tour.

The No. 119-ranked German began the day with a one-shot lead before his 3-under 69 at DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi.


Paul made four birdies against one bogey to reach 10 under overall.

A federal judge declined to postpone the trial date in LIV Golf’s antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, even while conceding that might be inevitable if LIV owner Saudi Arabia appeals a ruling that officials with its sovereign wealth fund be required to testify.

Friday’s case management hearing in the Northern District of California capped off a flurry of filings in the last week over the PGA Tour alleging the Public Investment Fund and its governor, Yasir al-Rumayyan, were more than just investors in the rival league.

Saudi Arabia’s PIF holds some $600 billion in oil profits and other assets, making it one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. The PIF owns 93 percent of LIV Golf, according to court documents.

US Magistrate Susan van Keulen ruled last week that the PIF and al-Rumayyan were not exempt from providing testimony and documents under the Foreign Service Immunity Act because of an exception for commercial activity.

Saudi Arabia, through its attorney, filed a separate letter with U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman on Thursday, arguing that the magistrate’s order has “broad implications for Saudi Arabia beyond the instant case” and that it would file a friend-of-court appeal.

A lawyer for the PIF indicated an appeal to the Ninth Circuit was ready to be filed as early as Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s leaders, in a lawsuit between their golf circuit and the rival PGA Tour, maintain their high standing in the oil kingdom’s government makes them legally immune from most actions by US courts.