Kurt Kitayama takes narrow lead at Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

Kurt Kitayama made two late birdies to slide into the lead at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Friday in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Through two rounds, Kitayama is 9 under par and holds a one-shot lead over Keith Mitchell, Brandon Wu, Joseph Bramlett and Hank Lebioda.

Kitayama shot a 2-under-par 70 Friday at Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of three courses in use for the first three days of the tournament. All players will play one round apiece at Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Spyglass Hill Golf Course before a 54-hole cut. The low 60 players and ties will play Pebble Beach in Sunday’s final round.

Kitayama began his round with nine pars on the back nine and was even for his round through 14 holes before sinking birdie putts at the par-5 sixth and the par-4 eighth holes.

“Today was really tough,” Kitayama said. “Started to really pick up on the back nine. But overall I’m really happy with where I’m at and how I played today.”

Kitayama, 30, is a native of Northern California but has spent much of his career overseas. He won twice on the DP World Tour and once on the Asian Tour. His best finish on the PGA Tour came in February 2022, when he wound up third at the Honda Classic.

On Saturday, he will play Spyglass Hill, considered the toughest of the three courses used in the tournament.

“I got to play Spyglass quite a bit (growing up),” Kitayama said. “Not so much here and Monterey. But I’ve seen it before and definitely feeling a lot more comfortable this time around. It’s always nice playing here. It’s nice being here.”

Lebioda also played Pebble Beach on Friday after taking the first-round lead with an 8-under 63 Thursday at Monterey Peninsula. A messy double bogey at the par-3 fifth and a bogey at the par-4 ninth, Lebioda’s final hole, dropped him out of the lead, and he finished an even-par 72.

Wu shot a 5-under 66, Bramlett carded a 4-under 67 and Mitchell had a 3-under 68 at Monterey Peninsula. Bramlett had a chip-in eagle at the par-5 sixth.

The round of the day belonged to Ireland’s Seamus Power, whose 7-under 64 at Monterey Peninsula featured an eagle, six birdies — including four in a row at Nos. 4-7 — and just one bogey.

That moved Power into a five-player tie for sixth at 7 under.

“I didn’t play particularly well, but I scored very well. It’s something I kind of pride myself on,” Power said. “Made some good putts, hung in there when I wasn’t hitting a lot of great shots. So all in all, very pleased, but I would like to kind of see a little better ball-striking, so I’ll go work on that now for a while.”

Norway’s Viktor Hovland (4-under 67 at Monterey Peninsula) and England’s Justin Rose (3-under 69 at Spyglass Hill) are part of a massive tie for 11th at 6 under.

Jordan Spieth, who won the event in 2017, shot a 3-under 68 at Monterey Peninsula and is 4 under heading to Pebble Beach on Saturday. Defending champion Tom Hoge posted 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill and is 3 under for the tournament.

Although Canada’s Ben Silverman is 2 over through two rounds, he and his amateur playing partner — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — have opened a commanding five-stroke lead on the pro-am leaderboard at 21 under after combining for an 11-under 60 on Friday at Monterey Peninsula.

A caddie working for an amateur player competing in the event collapsed on the 11th fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Friday and was rushed to a local hospital for evaluation.

The PGA Tour confirmed the medical emergency and the caddie was not identified. An ESPN reporter at Pebble Beach showed a picture of an ambulance being driven onto the 11th hole as the caddie was placed on a stretcher. CPR was reportedly administered to the caddie as well.

–Field Level Media

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