World No. 3 Cameron Smith of Australia shot a 3-under 69 amid tough scoring conditions to forge a narrow lead Friday at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
Smith was one of six co-leaders after Thursday’s opening round. Now he stands alone at 8 under, one shot ahead of Denny McCarthy and South Korea’s K.H. Lee.
Nobody shot lower than a 4-under 68 Friday at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Billy Horschel’s 68 was the only round without a bogey so far this week, and it moved him into a tie for fourth at 6 under with Davis Riley (71), Cameron Young (71), Luke List (71) and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas (69).
Smith’s last birdie of the day came from off the green at the par-3 12th hole. Smith’s chip barely landed on the green, and it rode a downslope from there for a holeout of almost 36 feet.
“Really happy with where my short game’s at,” Smith said. “I feel like I’m rolling the ball really good. Just need to sort out that longer stuff. Didn’t really hit many fairways on the back greens, but just need to hit a few balls and sort it out.”
If Smith goes on to win the tournament, he’d join Tiger Woods (2001) as the only men to win the Players Championship and the Memorial in the same season. Smith said “there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be” near the top of the leaderboard each week now.
“I’m playing some of the best golf of my life, and I feel I’m getting more consistent with the longer stuff,” he said. “So just looking forward to everything coming up.”
Lee won last month’s AT&T Byron Nelson and continued his stellar stretch of form with a 67 and a 70 in his first two rounds in Ohio. He made four birdies and two bogeys Friday.
McCarthy, meanwhile, is ranked No. 145 in the world and in search of his first win on tour. Starting on the back nine Friday, he made three birdies in a five-hole stretch and finished the day with five birdies against two bogeys for a 69.
McCarthy leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting through two rounds. His biggest moment Friday came at the par-3 fourth hole, when his 40-foot putt from the front apron of the green swept right to left and found the cup for a birdie.
“Everyone has the best part of their game. Obviously putting is part of mine,” McCarthy said. “Driving the ball is the best part of his game. I’m no slouch around the course, like putting is not the only thing I do well. Everyone brings up my putter; yes, I’m a good putter, but I need to do good things to get to those putts.”
Horschel birdied the par-4 first, par-5 fifth, par-3 12th and par-4 13th holes in his bogey-free outing. Two of his birdie putts dropped from longer than 20 feet.
“This week we’ve done a lot of good stuff out there,” Horschel said. “Today was a lot better than yesterday. Felt better with some of the things that (swing instructor Todd Anderson) and I are working on.”
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (69) is tied for ninth at 5 under with Francesco Molinari of Italy (68) and Keith Mitchell (69). World No. 2 Jon Rahm of Spain (70) is tied for 24th at 2 under.
Canada’s Adam Hadwin made the first hole-in-one of his PGA Tour career, knocking a 7 iron at the par-3 16th right in line with the flagstick. He shot a 68 to get to even par, tied for 39th with Viktor Hovland of Norway, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and others.
Matt Fitzpatrick of England (3 over), Collin Morikawa (4 over), Gary Woodland (5 over) and Australia’s Marc Leishman (5 over) were among those who missed the cut of 2 over par.
Bryson DeChambeau followed Thursday’s 76 with a 77 and missed the cut at 9 over. It was his first start since recovering from wrist surgery he had in April.
–Field Level Media