Recap of the day
Morning wave: Tied for the lead (-7) with Abraham Ancer and Joaquin Niemann after R1 and the only one of the trio to head out early, Hideki Matsuyama was hoping to hit double digits under and then some. But hampered by bogeys on two of the par 5s, the Japanese star had to settle for a 1-under 71. His 8-under total was matched by Wesley Bryan (68), Jason Day (68) and J.B. Holmes (66). Lurking two shots back were Dustin Johnson (66) and Bubba Watson (67) after strong morning laps of Muirfield Village.
Afternoon wave: Byeong Hun An jumped from the chasing pack to close with three birdies and set the new clubhouse lead of 9-under. He would later get passed up by the young Chilean, Joaquin Niemann, as well as Kyle Stanley. Tiger Woods looked as if he could go super-low after holing out from 95 yards for eagle to go 5-under for both the day and the tournament but, perhaps hurt by a weather delay, he stayed at 5-under for the day after a frustrating finish. Stanley continued to hit fairways and greens while Niemann circled seven birdies to offset a trio of bogeys. He continues to show no fear as he attempts to pick up his third top 10 in five starts since turning pro. A finish of solo 7th or better would secure Special Temporary Membership. The afternoon wave combined to average 69.67 which easily beat the 71.25 mark set in the morning. After two days, the AM/PM draw had a 3.06-shot advantage over the golfers who started their week on Thursday afternoon.
Leaderboard: -11, Kyle Stanley, Joaquin Niemann; -9 Byeong Hun An; -8 Wesley Bryan, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, J.B. Holmes
Other notables: -7 Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson; -6 Dustin Johnson; -5 Tiger Woods; -4 Phil Mickelson; -3 Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowle; Evs Rory McIlroy
The Cut: Fell at Even Par which brings a 54-hole cut into the equation as 81 pros posted at even-par 144 or better.
Missed cut: +2 Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Aaron Wise, Kevin Chappell,; +3 Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk; +4 Jason Dufner (defending champ); +7 Kevin Na
Sat weather forecast
After the interruption in round two, the weather looks all set to behave tomorrow. Lots of sunshine mixed with cloud, temps hovering just above 80 degrees in the afternoon and a light northerly wind of 8mph.
Top 3 after 36 holes – how they performed
Kyle Stanley 66, 133 – There is a good mix of plodders and bombers near the top of the board but Stanley is certainly getting the job done through a fairways-and-greens style of golf. He ranks T8 in fairways hit this week (23) and T12 in GIR (27). Stanley has top 10s here in two of his last three visits.
Joaquin Niemann 68, 133 – Niemann carded three bogeys today but offset those with a seven-pack of birdies. First-timers aren't supposed to come into Jack's Place and pick it apart like this. Is it due to the soft course or is he a top talent ala Hideki Matsuyama who won here in his tournament debut? You might say the latter when you consider Niemann was just recently the World No. 1 amateur before turning pro at the Valero Texas Open. A finish of solo 7th or better would secure Special Temporary Membership.
Byeong Hun An 67, 135 – Finished like a train to end as R1 leader here for the second time. Ranked 2nd in SG: Approach and gained over two strokes with the flat stick.
Fate of the favorites
Dustin Johnson 66, 138 – Six shots better today, back in the tournament and he’s only -1 on the par 5s after 36 holes so surely more to come. Irons much better in round two.
Justin Thomas 69, 141 – Top four here last year but, despite breaking 70 today, JT’s game looks a little flat. Not in the top 20 in any of the main statistical categories.
Rory McIlroy 70, 144 – Had it going (4-under through 13) but then bogeyed two pars and failed to break 70. Upped GIR count from 10 to 14 but has lost over three strokes putting this week.
Jordan Spieth 72, 147 – Needed a low one after his Thursday 75. Didn’t get it. Five bogeys on his card and his week ended with 25% Scrambling stats
Road to victory at Memorial
2017 Jason Dufner – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 3rd
2016 William McGirt - R1: 44th, R2: 22nd, R3: 1st
2015 David Lingmerth - R1: 5th, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
2014 Hideki Matsuyama - R1: 21st, R2: 4th, R3: 3rd
2013 Matt Kuchar - R1: 7th, R2: 4th, R3: 1st
Notes: By the 36-hole mark, the picture is normally pretty clear at Muirfield Village. Notably, in the last 20 years, the eventual winner has held the lead/co-lead after two rounds on nine occasions. Dufner and Lingmerth have added to that trend in the last three years. In addition, 15 of the last 20 winners were in the top five at halfway so you need to be up there. Some exceptions? Tiger was T24 at the midpoint when winning in 2009 while McGirt was T22. The only other two players to win from outside the top ten since 1998 are K.J. Choi (T12 at halfway) in 2007 and Jim Furyk (T15) in 2002. In terms of shots off the lead, Choi came from seven back while Woods (2009) and McGirt wiped out six-shot deficits. Matsuyama was five in arrears before surging on the weekend to win in 2014.
Fate of the 36-hole leaders at Memorial
2015 David Lingmerth – 1st
2014 Paul Casey – 13th
2013 Bill Haas – 4th
Notes: Leading going into the weekend is no total guarantee for success or even a top ten. Ask Brendan Steele and Paul Casey, who went backwards on Saturday with respective rounds of 75 and 76 and couldn’t recover. Len Mattiace went from 1st to tied 31st in 1998. However, the general trend at Memorial is if you play well for two rounds, it’s going to be a very good week. Of the 25 players who have led/co led at halfway, no less than 20 have finished in the top five.
Focus on – Tiger Woods
August 2013. Tiger lifts the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational trophy for the eighth time. He hasn’t won since. He captured that event after taking the lead thru’ 36 holes. Winning from the front was the Woods way. His numbers are ridiculous. Woods has held the 36-hole lead 33 times in his PGA Tour career and converted 28 of them. That’s 84.8%! Leading after 54? Tiger won 43 from 45. If he is to get back to winning ways, history says Tiger will need up be there rather than charge from behind. In eight starts so far this season, Woods’ best finish is second at the Valspar Championship. Where was he at halfway? Tied second. After holing out for eagle at 11 today and making birdie at 15, Tiger had a seven-foot putt at 16 to go to -7 and have every chance of finishing the day inside the top five. It didn’t drop and neither did a short par-putt at 17. Tiger ended R2 outside the top 20. Past evidence says he’s left himself too much to do and the wait for the ‘W’ will go on.
Focus on – Jordan Spieth
What’s up Jordan? Since his thrilling late burst at Augusta National, the three-time major winner hasn’t cracked the top 20 in five starts and a missed cut here makes it two early exits during that run. The last time Spieth failed to register a top 20 in a five-tournament stretch was the summer of 2014 and before that 2012 when still an amateur. This current dip hardly represents a crisis – one of the MCs came in the pairs event in New Orleans – but has he fallen quite a way down the pecking order when thinking of likely U.S. Open winners at Shinnecock? Retief Goosen won the 2004 edition there with an astonishing display of clutch putting but Spieth’s prowess on the greens has waned horribly this season. His position of 192nd on the season-long SG: Putting stats is hard to compute and he recorded another minus figure in his second round today. Looking at the stats measuring success from inside 10 feet (think par saves in a U.S. Open) and Spieth is down at 197th.