Shane Lowry best of the Irish as Todd leads in Memphis
Rory McIlroy hit back on Friday with a round of 66 to move to under par for the week
Shane Lowry plays a shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Brendon Todd’s consistent ball striking and exemplary putting allowed him to take a two shot lead at the halfway point of the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis. Rickie Fowler’s flourishing finish with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes saw him emerge alone from the pursuing pack.
The 35-year-old American, Todd, produced a measured, blemish-free 65 on foot of five birdies and is beautifully placed to try and grab a third victory on the PGA Tour this season, following tournament wins in successive weeks last November in the Bermuda Championship and Mayakoba Golf Classic.
From an Irish perspective Shane Lowry, starting on the 10th, had momentum moving to five under after eight holes with three birdies but a bogey on the 18th and another on the Par 5 third were the only deviations from par and he eventually signed for a 69 that promised to be so much better. Graeme McDowell (70) was the epitome of solidity, a single dropped shot offset by a lone birdie.
Rory McIlroy shrugged off a disappointing opening 73 with a truer representation of his talent, shooting a four under 66 that contained five birdies but he still lies 10 shots behind Todd with 36 holes remaining. His primary concern has to be ironing out the kinks ahead of next week’s US PGA Championship.
Conditions were a little more benign in terms of Thursday’s gusting wind - it picked up for the later starters - that rendered club selection tricky at times but the corollary was that the greens were firmer and less receptive. Todd was a model of control for the most part and on the rare occasion that he did get out of position he possessed the wherewithal to salvage the situation.
He admitted: “On 16, I just drove it behind the trees on the left and was too aggressive on the lay-up ending up in a fairway bunker. I hit it over the green which wasn’t a bad spot, but was able to chip it up there and make it.
“I just grinded very hard and made some clutch putts. Yeah definitely the wind was down a little bit. There were a few pins that were a bit more difficult on one, 14 and 16; there were a couple of birdie opportunities but you still have to place the ball and make the putts.”
The overnight leader and defending champion, Brooks Koepka - he started on the 10th - looked like he was going to continue in the same vein to his opening 62 but, despite a couple of birdies, his assurance on the greens deserted him. His homeward journey proved a bumpy ride, requiring 38 strokes, three over regulation figures for a 71.
Koepka demonstrated his sense of humour when his ball came to rest in almost an identical spot in the trees on the Par 4 seventh to a lie that Bryson DeChambeau had drawn the previous day. On that occasion DeChambeau called for a referee and plea-bargained for relief on the basis that he had seen a fire ant and/or a red ant in the vicinity of his ball and it could therefore be dangerous.
It was a ludicrous entreaty and one that was correctly dismissed but when Koepka drew a similar lie, he could be heard by the commentary team turning to his caddie Ricky Elliott and suggesting he had just seen an ant.
The American was less enamoured in his post round review when asked about the shortcomings of his game on the day. “I misread a few (on the back nine) and on the front just didn’t hit any good putts.”
He’s been working hard with swing coaches Claude Harmon and Pete Cowen as well as putting guru, Phil Kenyon. “It is just trying to figure out what is going on. We figured out what is going on with the ball striking; that’s fine I don’t need to worry about that. Putting (issues) have been going on for a while but we will figure it out.”
Collated second round scores & totals in the World Golf Championships — FedEx Stp. Jude Invitational, TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America (USA unless stated, par 70):
129 Brendon Todd 64 65
131 Rickie Fowler 64 67
133 Brooks Koepka 62 71, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 68 65, Chez Reavie 66 67
134 Sung Kang (Kor) 65 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 64
135 Jason Day (Aus) 68 67, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 68 67, Sungjae Im (Kor) 67 68, Webb Simpson 69 66
136 Kevin Na 72 64, Scottie Scheffler 69 67, Justin Thomas 66 70
137 Phil Mickelson 67 70, Dustin Johnson 69 68, Jason Kokrak 69 68, Shane Lowry (Irl) 68 69, Kevin Streelman 71 66, Jordan Spieth 68 69
138 JT Poston 70 68, Xander Schauffele 68 70, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 68 70, Ryan Palmer 69 69, Bubba Watson 68 70, Matt Kuchar 66 72, Daniel Berger 71 67, Tony Finau 70 68, Keegan Bradley 68 70, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 67 71, Kevin Kisner 70 68, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 69
139 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 68 71, Danny Willett (Eng) 69 70, Cameron Champ 71 68, Joel Dahmen 72 67, Max Homa 66 73, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 73 66, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 72 67, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 68 71, Nick Taylor (Can) 69 70
140 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 71 69, Gary Woodland 71 69, Bryson DeChambeau 67 73, Billy Horschel 70 70, Corey Conners (Can) 72 68, Patrick Reed 71 69
141 Haotong Li (Chn) 68 73, Collin Morikawa 70 71, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 72 69, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 70
142 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 67 75, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 67 75, Andrew Landry 70 72, Ian Poulter (Eng) 73 69
143 Matthew Wolff 69 74, Matt Wallace (Eng) 72 71, Sebastian Soderberg (Swe) 72 71, Matt Jones (Aus) 71 72, Tom Lewis (Eng) 73 70
144 Adam Hadwin (Can) 73 71, Michael Thompson 70 74, Cameron Smith (Aus) 72 72, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 71 73, Jon Rahm (Spa) 70 74, Robert Macintyre (Sco) 71 73, Victor Perez (Fra) 73 71, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 73, Tyler Duncan 74 70, Brandt Snedeker 73 71
145 Patrick Cantlay 73 72
146 Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 75 71, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 73 73, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 72 74
147 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 73 74
149 Shaun Norris (Rsa) 73 76, Paul Casey (Eng) 71 78