Troy Merritt is simply happy to be playing golf again after having a rib removed early this year and missing two months, so being atop the leaderboard in the Memorial Tournament is a bonus.
The 33-year-old Merritt (pictured) posted a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with Martin Kaymer of Germany and Kyoung-Hoon Lee of South Korea midway through the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village Golf Club http://www.mvgc.org in Dublin, Ohio.
“Basically my top rib and clavicle were too close together, and it pinched the vein and it caused the blood clot,” said Merritt, who has won twice on the PGA Tour, including the Barbasol Championship last year. “(The surgery) freed me up a little bit more on my golf swing. My tempo has been better ever since it was out. … I’m just trying to get 20 starts (this season). I’ll play all summer long. Not really looking at the points race too much. But just planning on playing a lot of golf.
“ … The course is still very scorable and very gettable. I think you’ll see a few guys get in double digits and stay there. We put our self in a good position for this weekend. We’ll see what the weather does. I can’t imagine the course is going to change too, too much. Just go out and make a bunch of birdies. It’s nice to be in contention.”
Merritt chipped in for an eagle on the seventh hole and added six birdies in his 66 to finish 36 holes at 9-under 135.
Lee recorded a bogey-free 66, while Kaymer could have had sole possession of the lead but he made his only bogey in a 67 while finishing on the ninth hole.
Jordan Spieth recorded a 70 and is one stroke back in solo fourth, while 10th-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta shot 68 and is two behind in a tie for fifth with Adam Scott (66) of Australia, Patrick Cantlay (69) of Los Alamitos and UCLA, Bud Cauley (70) and Emilio Grillo (68) of Argentina.
Third-ranked Justin Rose of England made two eagles on the front nine and carded a 63 to wind up one more shot back in a tie for 10th with Danny Willett (69) of England, Marc Leishman (71) of Australia, Andrew Putnam (70) of Pepperdine and Austin Cook (67).
Ninth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State is tied for 15th after a 70, while fifth-ranked Tiger Woods, who has won the tournament five times, shot 72 and is tied for 33rd, and eighth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis wound up at 70 and is tied for 55th.
Fourth-ranked Rory McIlory finished at 70 but missed the cut by one stroke, Phil Mickelson struggled to a 79 to miss the weekend by six, and sixth-ranked Justin Thomas stumbled to an 80 in his return from a right wrist injury and missed by eight.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html