Friday at the ZOZO Championship proved to challenge some of the world’s best players, as gale-force winds swirled all day at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan.
Some gusts reached 40 miles per hour, but most often, the wind blew at a sustained 20 to 30 mph.
Hence, only 13 of the 78 players in the field carded under-par rounds Friday.
Beau Hossler was one of those players, as he shot a brilliant 5-under 65 to take the solo lead. He sits at 7-under for the championship.
“I hit good shots. Yeah, I’ve been playing well lately,” Hossler said.
“It’s a difficult golf course in spots; it’s a very gettable golf course in spots. With that being said, playing in whatever, easily 20- to 30-mile-an-hour winds today was certainly a challenge. I’d say anything under par was a really quality score, so to shoot 5-under par was incredible.”
Only 18 players are currently under par for the tournament. That includes Collin Morikawa, who shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday that included zero bogies.
But bogies were plentiful on Friday thanks to the wind. Morikawa made four bogies and even double-bogeyed the par-5 14th. He signed for a 3-over 73 for his second round.
“When it was gusting, you had to control your golf ball,” Morikawa said after Friday’s round. “I think I counted my fairways when I was walking up 18; I hit three fairways today. I’ve just got to hit more fairways. That’s all it is. Made the round extremely hard today not being able to hit those fairways.”
Finding the short grass is imperative on this tree-lined golf course, which features small greens. The rough is pretty thick, too.
Nevertheless, Morikawa sits four shots behind Hossler, who aims to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.
“No disrespect to Japan, but I’ll take a win anywhere,” Hossler said. “This is an awesome place. I really liked playing last year; I was excited to come back. It’s a really cool week for us off the course, with incredible food, and an incredible host facility.”
Hossler, who played collegiately at the University of Texas, burst on the golf scene at the 2012 U.S. Open, where he held the outright lead midway through the second round. He was 17 years old at the Olympic Club then.
But now the former Longhorn holds the lead outright through 36 holes in Japan.
He will begin his third round Saturday alongside Justin Suh, who is also looking for his first win on tour, and Satoshi Kodaira, a 34-year-old from Japan who ranks 497th in DataGolf’s rankings.
This final pairing tees off at 9:42 a.m. local time, which is 10:42 p.m. ET.
Golf Channel’s third-round coverage begins at 11 p.m. ET on Friday.