Todd Posts 65, Goes 2 Up on Rickie in Memphis

Brendon Todd is one of three players who have won twice on the PGA Tour this season, and he’s looking for more.

The 35-year-old Todd posted a bogey-free, 5-under-par 65 to grab a two-stroke lead over Rickie Fowler midway through the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn.

Tee times were moved up several hours because of storms expected to hit the Memphis area later in the day.

“‘Frustrated’ is not the right word because I understood the severity of the pandemic and we do what we had to do in taking a break from golf,” Todd said of the PGA Tour shutdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic in March when he was on top of his game.

“I would say I’m probably more excited and happy about the resumption of play and being able to complete this season. More excited now than I was frustrated at the break.”

Todd, who captured the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Golf Classic early in the season, was coming off a tie for 18th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational—his seventh finish in the top 25 in 2019-20, when the shutdown came.

His 64-65 start at TPC Southwind represents his best golf since the restart, and his 50-foot putt on the 14th hole was the highlight of the five birdies that gave him a 36-hole total of 11-under-120.

“It was breaking left to right five-or-six feet,” Todd said of the 50-footer. “My caddie really kind of set me up with a good spot there beyond the hole to aim at and I just focused all on speed.

“It happened to just drift right there in the middle of the hole. Bonus birdie there, but that’s what you’ve got to do to win golf tournaments.”

Fowler, from Murrieta, overcame a double-bogey 5 on the 11th hole by finishing with two straight birdies to shoot 67 and take solo second.

It’s been a lean season for Fowler, whose only two top-10 finishes came in January, but he stayed close in Memphis by holing a 35-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole and chipped in from 41 feet for another birdie on the last.

“I was pulling a lot of putts, I was kind of tense with it, so it’s nice to see things kind of pay off,” said Fowler, who has won five times on the PGA Tour, but not since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. “The putter’s definitely in a better spot.

“This year hasn’t been my greatest. Been working on a lot of stuff. I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. I think that’s been my main goal is go through some changes for the better. Sometimes you’ve got to take that step back to take two steps forward. I feel like we already made the step back, I feel like we’ve made a step forward. I’m looking for that next step.”

Defending champion and sixth-ranked Brooks Koepka, the first-round leader at 62, followed that with a disappointing 71 and is four shots back in a tie for third with Byeong Hun An of South Korea, who had a 65, and Chez Reavie, who finished at 67.

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, coming off a solo third in the Memorial Tournament, holed out from 53 yards for an eagle on the third hole en route to a 64 and is one more behind in a tie for sixth with Sung Kang of South Korea, who wound up at 69.

Fourth-ranked Webb Simpson, another two-time winner this season, totaled 66 with four birdies on the back nine and is six strokes down in a tie for eighth with Jason Day of Australia, who had a 67, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, who also shot 67, and Sungjae Im of South Korea, who came in at 68.

Third-ranked Justin Thomas, the third two-time champion this season, is tied for 12th after a 70, fifth-ranked Dustin Johnson carded a 68 and is tied for 15th, and second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland rallied with a 66 and is tied for 33rd.

Eighth-ranked Patrick Reed totaled 69 and is in a tie for 43rd that includes seventh-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, who had a 73, top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain struggled to a 74 and is tied for 62nd, while 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA is solo 70th after a 72.

There was no cut in the limited-player field.

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