PGA: J.J. Spaun holds one-shot lead after two rounds in Memphis
J.J. Spaun shot a 3-under 67 on Friday and holds a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn.
Spaun is one shot ahead of Troy Merritt and Austria’s Sepp Straka after two trips around TPC Southwind. Straka shot a 66 on Friday and Merritt carded his second straight 65.
Denny McCarthy is alone in fourth and two shots back after a 65.
Spaun shot a stellar 62 in the first round to share the lead with Si Woo Kim of South Korea. While Kim faltered with a 3-over 73 to slip into a tie for 27th, Spaun put together another solid round.
Spaun, 31, made five birdies and two bogeys while posting the top 36-hole score of his career.
“I feel good. It’s exciting,” Spaun said afterward. “Still a lot of golf left. Just going to try to keep doing what I’ve been doing the last two days, and hopefully it will pay off.”
The San Diego State product is looking for his second career PGA Tour win. He prevailed at the Valero Open in April.
But he hasn’t fared well since the triumph. Though he tied for eighth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic late last month, he missed the cut five times and withdrew after the first round in another event during a 10-tournament stretch since the Valero victory.
One of the missed cuts was at last week’s Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.
“I worked on some good things in the past couple weeks that are starting to pay off,” Spaun said. “And especially this week, too, kind of got a nice feel with my swing and just trusting it. And the putter is working, too, so that’s a nice equalizer if things aren’t going your way from tee to green.”
Merritt bagged an eagle on the par-5 16th hole, and also had six birdies. But three bogeys took some of the shine off the round as the Boise State product enjoyed his Thursday round more than his repeat effort.
“Yesterday looked like a 65,” Merritt said. “Today I had to work a little bit harder and make a few more scrambling putts, it seemed like. Yesterday I made some nice birdie putts from the 20- to 30-foot range but was never really in trouble making any bogeys, and today I got stuck in some bunkers and had to get out a few more times.
“Obviously, the eagle on 16 helped, but yesterday’s 65 looked a lot better.”
Straka finished his round on a tear with four birdies in the final five holes. Overall, he had five birdies and one bogey while halting a streak of six consecutive missed cuts that began at the U.S. Open.
“Kind of struggled a little bit on the front nine with trying to get it close,” Straka said. “I hit a lot of fairways, which is the key out here. Didn’t get myself into much trouble and was able to take advantage on those last few, hitting some irons close and making some putts.”
McCarthy had an eagle on No. 6, a par-4. He also had four birdies and one bogey.
Brian Harman (66), Ryan Palmer (67), Tony Finau (68) and Australia’s Cameron Smith (65) are tied for fifth at 8 under.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (1-under 139 total) and No. 3 Rory McIlroy (139) of Northern Ireland were among the players to miss the cut of 2 under.
Among others to miss it were Australia’s Jason Day (139), Jordan Spieth (144) and England’s Justin Rose (146).
–Field Level Media