Cameron Smith takes 1-shot lead into weekend at PGA Tour’s Memorial

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DUBLIN, Ohio — Cameron Smith believes he’s enjoying the perfect golf of his life, and it reveals. He’s within the lead at Memorial, a event the place the Australian does not have an awesome historical past.Smith elicited one of many loudest cheers of a wonderful afternoon Friday at Muirfield Village — one other anomaly for this weather-plagued event — when he holed out with a downhill chip from past the inexperienced on the par-3 twelfth that carried him to a 3-under 69.He stored his one-shot lead over Denny McCarthy and Ok.H. Lee the remainder of the day by doing what Smith does greatest. He holed a 15-foot putt for par on the following gap and twice made 6-foot par putts for bunker saves down the stretch.”I feel I am simply pleased with the way in which I caught in there,” Smith mentioned. “Actually pleased with the place my quick recreation’s at. I really feel like I am rolling the ball actually good. Simply must type out that longer stuff.”As for his historical past on the Memorial?In six earlier look, Smith solely made the reduce twice and each occasions and completed exterior the highest 60. His greatest spherical was a 71.However it is a new Smith, the winner of The Gamers Championship and the Sentry Event of Champions, the No. 3 participant on this planet rating.So his rounds of 67-69 to achieve 8-under 136 and be within the lead going into the weekend is hardly a shock, even at Muirfield Village.”I feel my recreation’s in a great spot. There isn’t any cause why I should not be,” he mentioned. “I am enjoying a few of the greatest golf of my life, and I really feel I am getting extra in keeping with the longer stuff. So simply trying ahead to every part arising.”Billy Horschel putted for birdie on each gap and made 4 of them for a 68 that left him within the group two pictures behind with Torrey Pines winner Luke Listing, PGA Tour rookies Cameron Younger and Davis Riley, and Jhonattan Vegas.Rory McIlroy had a 69 and was three pictures behind. Defending champion Patrick Cantlay closed with two massive par putts for a 69 and was at 3-under 141.The reduce was at 2-over 146. Amongst these lacking out on the weekend had been Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English, each getting back from accidents. DeChambeau (hand surgical procedure) had not performed for the reason that Masters. English (hip surgical procedure) had not performed for the reason that Sony Open in January.Additionally lacking the reduce had been Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Jed Morgan of Australia and U.S. Beginner champion James Piot, giving them two additional days to pack for London and the primary Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational subsequent week that places PGA Tour membership in danger, at the least for Swafford and Jones.McCarthy’s identify was talked about prominently even earlier than the Memorial started, after which he lived as much as the reward. He took solely 25 putts Friday — he solely had 24 putts the day earlier than — for a 3-under 69 that put him one shot behind.For many who do not pore over the litany of statistics out there on the PGA Tour, it was somewhat shocking when McIlroy was requested earlier within the week whom he thought-about the higher putters in at the moment’s recreation. He talked about Jordan Spieth. Everybody is aware of him. He was impressed with Sam Burns, a three-time winner during the last eight months.And he talked about McCarthy.Entry 4,300-plus hours of dwell protection from 35 PGA Tour tournaments every year, together with 4 days of protection at 28 occasions with 4 feeds every day. Plus, entry replays, originals and extra. Stream on ESPN+
Instructed of McIlroy’s feedback earlier within the week, McCarthy smiled and mentioned, “I wish to drive it like Rory.””Everybody has the perfect a part of their recreation. Clearly, placing is a part of mine,” mentioned McCarthy, who’s No. 5 in the important thing placing statistic for the season. “Driving the ball is the perfect a part of his recreation. I am no slouch across the course, like placing isn’t the one factor I do nicely. Everybody brings up my putter; sure, I am a very good putter. However I must do good issues to get to these putts.”McIlroy, in the meantime, has been selecting up somewhat momentum since his closing 64 on the Masters for a runner-up end. He completed 4 pictures behind on the Wells Fargo Championship and three pictures out of a playoff on the PGA Championship.McIlroy surged into the combo on the Memorial with a fairway metallic that was excessive and true and right into a freshening breeze to six ft for eagle on the par-5 fifth towards the top of his spherical. His momentum was slowed by a bogey from the bunker on the par-3 eighth, however his 69 left him in affordable form going into the weekend.Jon Rahm overcame a shank on the second gap — he made birdie on the following one — to scratch out a 70 with out his greatest iron recreation. He was at 2-under 142, six pictures behind. Rahm gained in 2020. He was six pictures forward after three rounds final yr till his optimistic COVID-19 check knocked him out of the ultimate spherical.

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