Kisner leads by two in China

Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

SHANGHAI — Two par saves in the middle of his round and two birdies at the end put Kevin Kisner in a place he has never been.

And that has nothing to do with his first trip to China.

Kisner put together another bogey-free performance Friday in the HSBC Champions for 6-under-par 66 and a two-shot lead over Russell Knox going into the weekend of the World Golf Championship. He was at 14-under 130, the lowest 36-hole score of his career, and he was the 36-hole leader for the first time in his career.

It was more than Kisner expected at Sheshan International, mainly because he didn’t have any expectations.

A sore back kept the 31-year-old American from seeing the golf course until he teed it up in the opening round on Thursday. He was so lost that walking off the eighth green, he wasn’t sure how to get to the next hole. None of that seemed to matter.

“It’s just golf, man,” Kisner said. “Doesn’t matter if it was here or wherever. Still get the ball in the hole as fast as you can.”

That proved far more difficult than in the opening round, mainly because the still, soft conditions gave way to a strong wind that never relented. Kisner twice saved par, with a 20-foot putt on the par-3 fourth and a 15-foot putt on the par-4 15th hole.

Only 16 players shot in the 60s on Friday, compared with 41 in the opening round.

SHIMA, Japan — Americans Angela Stanford and Ryann O’Toole shared the lead at 7-under-par 65 in the LPGA Tour’s Toto Japan Classic.

Third-ranked Stacy Lewis and fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 67.

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