Three share lead at midpoint of Sony Open in Hawaii

Jon Rahm’s departure for LIV Golf continues to pay quick dividends for Carl Yuan.

The 26-year-old from China shot a 5-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club on Friday to reach 9-under 131 at the midway point of the Sony Open in Hawaii. Yuan is tied for the lead entering the weekend with Austin Eckroat and South Korea’s Byeong Hun An.

Yuan finished 126th in last year’s FedEx Cup standings — one spot shy of earning full status on the PGA Tour for the 2024 season. But shortly after Rahm signed with LIV last month, Yuan was bumped up that key spot.

Yuan is in the first full-field event of his second season on the PGA Tour, and has yet to post a top-three finish through 34 starts. He’s in good position to change that with the lowest 36-hole score of his career.

“Hopefully … my score and performance will kind of cover that part,” Yuan said when asked if he expected to be known all year as the player who retained his status thanks to Rahm. “I mean, just looking forward to another year on tour. With all the learning experience from my rookie year definitely feel like I’m more prepared for being out here.”

Each of the three leaders birdied his final hole on Friday. The trio have a one-shot edge on Ben Griffin, Stewart Cink, Keith Mitchell, Taylor Montgomery, Kurt Kitayama, Chris Kirk, Grayson Murray, Germany’s Stephan Jaeger, France’s Matthieu Pavon and first-round leader Cam Davis of Australia.

Kirk, who won The Sentry last week, is attempting to become the first player to win the “Hawaii Double” since Justin Thomas in 2017 and the first player to win the first two events of a year since Ernie Els in 2003.

An, 32, is winless in 181 career prior starts, while Eckroat, 24, is seeking his first career PGA Tour win in his 45th start.

“I think this golf course suits a drawer, and I draw the golf ball,” said Eckroat, who tied for 12th in Honolulu last year and now also sits on the lowest 36-hole score of his career. “I played here well last year and was looking forward to coming back, which is huge.

“I think the golf course just suits my eye and the tee balls and everything, so it’s a really comforting golf course for me for sure.”

Gary Woodland, playing his first event after undergoing brain surgery in September, and Will Zalatoris, returning from back surgery that kept him out for nine months, both missed the cut. Woodland shot 1-over 71 on both Thursday and Friday. Zalatoris produced a second-round 69, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a first-round 76.

“Obviously you never want to miss the cut, never want to be out of contention, but it was bigger for me this week than golf,” Woodland said. “Golf game was rusty. Saw a lot of good things, but I was rusty scoring-wise.

“The goal coming into this week was to see where I was mentally. It was beautiful. Really was. It was the best week that I’ve had on a golf course in a long, long time. Focus was there all week. Attitude was great. Energy was great. A lot to build on.

“Came to see where I was, and I’m in a good spot. I think good things are happening.”

Also missing the cut was England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 8, who wound up at even par.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim from South Korea is among a dozen players at 5 under through 36 holes.