Golf

Published: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 6:31:51 AM
Updated: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 6:31:51 AM

Korean K.J. Choi beats bad weather to take Heritage lead

(Reuters) - South Korean K.J. Choi wielded a hot putter to vault into the lead before torrential rain and strong winds halted the second round at the $5.8 million RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Friday.

Choi made use of his advantageous early tee time, holing out three times from outside 20 feet on his way to a four-under-par 67 to post a five-under 137 halfway total at Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island.

Competition was stopped just before 3 p.m. with half the field still on the course and the round was rescheduled for completion early Saturday, weather permitting.

Australian Robert Allenby was best of those whose rounds were interrupted, one stroke behind Choi after completing just five holes.

Joint first round leader Matt Kuchar endured a nightmare start, making two double-bogeys in six holes to plunge four strokes behind Choi.

"I'm very happy finishing before the rain," Choi told PGATour.com. "Even in the morning it's very tough, wind blowing. Today the putting, I make a lot."

Choi, 43, has won eight times on the PGA Tour, though only once since 2008.

His halfway score was two shots better than Englishman Luke Donald (69) and Americans Billy Hurley (69) and Scott Langley (73).

Former world number one Donald is ideally suited to the tight Harbour Town course, where precision is more important than power.

He has a remarkable record, albeit without winning, having finished second or third four times in the past five years.

"If I'd got hot with the putter it could have been really special but still a very solid round and glad I'm done," said Donald.

"You've got to keep it in play and plot your way around this course. That's why I've had some success here.

"It's not a course you can overpower and you need to be proficient around the greens. I hit 15 greens and with these small greens it's a job well done."

Masters runner-up Jordan Spieth endured a tough morning, falling six strokes from the lead with a 74 that included a double-bogey at the par-four 18th, where he three-putted from 10 feet.

Bill Haas, the early leader at the Masters last week, withdrew before the second round, citing a wrist injury.

(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)

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