Mitchell shines again at Summit to grab CJ Cup lead

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Keith Mitchell fired an eagle and seven birdies Friday in an eight-under par 64 to take an early five-shot lead in the second round of the CJ Cup.

The American, searching for a second US PGA Tour title to go with the Honda Classic trophy he lifted in 2019, followed up a first-round 62 with another strong effort at the Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, hosting the tournament moved from South Korea because of the coronavirus Pandemic.

Mitchell hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation in a round featuring a 60-foot eagle putt at the par-five third.

With afternoon starters still on the course he had a five-shot lead over three-time major-winner Jordan Spieth, fellow American Harry Higgs and South Korean Kim Seong-hyeon.

Spieth had an eagle and eight birdies along with three bogeys in his seven-under 65. Higgs carded a 67 and Kim nabbed seven birdies and an eagle at the par-five 18th in a nine-under par 63.

The South Korean, winner of the Japan PGA Championship in July, is in search of a first US PGA Tour title.

Mitchell said he'd felt the pressure of trying to add a second title to his resume -- something he almost did at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in May.

He held a two-shot lead going into the final round but finished tied for third behind winner Rory McIlroy -- who said his closeup view of Mitchell's game convinced him the American was the real deal.

While Mitchell appreciated that view, he said he'd been working hard to gain the consistency that would make him a contender week-in and week-out.

Last season he made 16 cuts, with three top-five finishes, and missed 12.

"It's like a roller coaster, and my game is like that," he said. "This year, I kind of took a hard look at my game. I felt like I've either had the game, the potential I should say, to play a lot better than I have on a consistent basis.

"I just wanted to take this year and just try to be as consistent as possible, because I felt like feast or famine was kind of my game the last four years and I wanted to be a little bit more consistent, a little bit more patient -- play like a Tour pro and not just like a young kid out there firing at flags."