Kisner, not the longest of hitters but unerringly accurate for the most part until he double-bogeyed the 16th and bogeyed the last, posted a seven-under 206 total, one stroke ahead of fellow American Stroud (71) and Japan's Matsuyama (73).
This will be his first time with a piece of the lead heading into the weekend of a major, and he seems excited for the experience and the challenge. "I feel like I have the game to compete in majors, and tons of 30th, 40th and 50th-place finishes".
On Friday, Matsuyama shot a bogey-free 64 which had seven birdies, five of which came in the last seven holes.
The three major champions this year - Sergio Garcia (Masters), Brooks Koepra (US Open), and Jordan Spieth (The Open) share another common denominator - they have six letters in their Christian name, and six in their surname. "Other than that, I would have been just fine".
"That is a really hard hole", Matsuyama said.
"Didn't do anything great today but I didn't do anything bad". Heavy rain and nearby lightning strikes forced players and spectators back inside, but the course yielded more birdies after play resumed.
"I'm probably not playing as well as I did at the end of previous year [when in a five-tournament streak in Japan and on the PGA Tour, he compiled four wins and a second]".
"I'm not satisfied at all with my performance and I'm disappointed, but at the same time I'm excited about being one shot off the lead", said Matsuyama, who won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational last week.
Jason Day, the 2015 victor and third player in the final threesome, suffers a quadruple-bogey eight to stumble in with a 77 to tumble back to even par for the tournament.
"The greens here at Quail Hollow, as you know, are really fast".
"It's unfortunate. (Jason) played good coming in and then gave it all away, so that's tough", said Kisner. "I haven't hit it this well this whole summer".
Day will forever regret his brain explosion after cutting the ears off his drive, and trying to play a miracle shot around the trees to get back in the frame.
TELEVISION: Sunday, 11 a.m. -2 p.m. (TNT), 2-7 p.m. (CBS).
Fox's 66 was the low round of the tournament till that point, and comprised four birdies on the front nine and a further two, plus a lone bogey on the par-four 11th, on the inward nine. "I'm going to keep it mellow and relaxed like it's been the first two days". 15 and 17 to get back to even par for the day.
His round included four birdies, four bogeys, a double bogey and a quadruple bogey as he ended out of contention.
Former Lamar and PNG golfer Chris Stroud is one of those that will have to finish up Saturday morning.