Merritt takes four-shot lead after record-equalling 61 as Spieth finds form again

Masters champion gets back in contention after 62 while Graeme McDowell in share of fourth spot

Jordan Spieth waves to the gallery after making a birdie on the ninth hole, his last,  during the second round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links  in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Jordan Spieth waves to the gallery after making a birdie on the ninth hole, his last, during the second round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

 

A day of low scoring at the RBC Heritage saw American Troy Merritt take the lead on 12 under on the back of equalling the course record with an 11-under 61, while Masters champion Jordan Spieth blazed back into contention with a 62.

Graeme McDowell, champion at Harbour Town Golf Links in 2013, finished strongly with two birdies for a two-under 69 to move to seven under, five shots adrift of Merritt in a share of fourth spot.

Conditions were ideal for scoring at Hilton Head with the wind that had dogged the players on Thursday having disappeared.

Spieth had struggled in his opening round after missing out on a practice due to his hectic media schedule following his Major breakthrough at Augusta.

The 21-year-old Texan had looked tired and out of sorts when carding a three-over 74 on Thursday, but he was back on the birdie trail from the start of his second round, with the first coming at his opening hole, the 10th.

Spieth was in the kind of form saw him card a record-breaking 28 birdies over the four rounds of the Masters and he would make nine in total in his 62, tieing his career-low round.

That was one shot off David Frost’s course record from 1994, with Merritt going on to equal the South African’s mark thanks to a record back nine of 28 that included seven birdies and two pars. The 29-year-old from Iowa, who missed the cut at the Houston Open, also carded three birdies on the front nine.

Merritt was four shots clear of defending champion Matt Kuchar, who added a five-under 66 to his opening 68, and John Merrick, who went one better with a 65.

McDowell in a share of fourth spot on seven under alongside Kevin Kisner (67) and another former champion Jim Furyk, who carded a fine 64.

After starting with a birdie at the 10th, McDowell dropped shots at 14th and 18th to turn in one-over 36.

Like Spieth he made his real gains over the front nine, with birdies on the second and fifth before his third bogey on the sixth brought him back to level for the day.

A strong finish was required and birdie putts from four and 11 feet on the eighth and ninth helped the Portrush man leave the course with a smile.

Spieth is in a five-way tie for seventh spot alongside fellow Americans Morgan Hoffman (68), Matt Every (70) and Kevin Streelman (65) with South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (67) also on six under.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.