BY PETER HAILEY, CSNwashington.com
Troy Merritt was pleased with the way he was striking the ball during the first two days of the Quicken Loans National at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., but his struggles with putting prevented him from truly climbing the leaderboard.
On Saturday, however, those problems with the flat stick were fixed, and Merritt shot a 10 under 61 on the day -- a new course record.
Talk about making a move on moving day.
"I hit the ball pretty much like I did the first two days," Merritt said after his round. "The biggest difference was the first two days I missed 11 putts inside of 12 feet. Today they all went right in the hole."
Merritt entered the clubhouse as the tournament's leader at 14 under overall. He put the picturesque conditions of the course that sits on Lake Manassas to good use, and read the greens well from the first hole to the last.
"Just a hint of breeze," he said. "They [the greens] were still soft. Rolled pretty smooth and took advantage of that."
As for his approach for Sunday, where he'll be the hunted as opposed to a hunter, Merritt just wants to continue what he did on Saturday. And if he's able to, there's a strong chance that he'll take home his first career PGA Tour victory.
"Just kind of keep doing what I'm doing," Merritt said, who's currently the 180th ranked player in the world. "The ball strikes have been there all week...The way I rolled it today, I'll be pretty confident on the greens and maybe we can make one or two early to get things going."
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. One thing that is for certain, though: When people look up the lowest rounds in the history of the QLN, Merritt will be at the top of the list, all alone with his 61.
For someone whose name was only recognizable to the most hardcore of golf fans at the beginning of the week, that's quite an accomplishment.