It has been almost two years since Ryuji Imada posted his first PGA TOUR victory, claiming the AT&T Classic in a playoff against Kenny Perry.
After going through a lull in 2009 when he failed to record a top-10 finish, Imada has raised his game in 2010 in an attempt to add a second title to his resume. He's produced two top-10 finishes this year and now going into this weekend at THE PLAYERS Championship, he's in great shape after shooting a 6-under 66 to put him at 11 under for the tournament, just one stroke off the current leader, Lee Westwood.
Watch Ryuji Imada as he Ryuji Imada holes a birdie chip from just off the green at the par-5 9th.
"It's tough. These guys are really good, and I've still got to practice hard and shoot low scores."
He'll certainly shoot plenty of low scores if he continues to putt the way he did on Friday when he needed just 23 putts, 11 on the back nine.
Outside of a 28-footer for birdie on the par-4 seventh, though, his made putts were not unusually long. Instead, he made all 16 of his putts inside 15 feet during his bogey-free round.
"Obviously, to have 23 putts, everything has got to go your way," he said. "If you're striking it decent and having 10- to 20-footers all day, you're not going to have 23. And if you do, you're going to be shooting in the 50s. So obviously your irons have got to be a little bit off to have 23 putts.
"But my putting feels great. I don't know the last time it felt this good."
Imade went out in 32, finishing his front nine with three consecutive birdies. But his key hole Friday was the 10th when his approach shot caught the slope and fell off the green to the left. He wasn't happy with his third shot, and his par putt was just inside 15 feet. But he nailed it.
"That kept the round going," he said.
Now let's see if he keep his momentum going the next two days.
To replay Imada's round on Shot Tracker, click here. -- Mike McAllister
RYUJI IMADA'S STATISTICS FROM ROUND 2
|Driving distance||Fairways hit||Greens in regulation||Putts needed||Sand saves|
|271.1 yards||9 of 14||11 of 18||23||3 of 3|