DUBLIN (Ohio) – Germany’s Martin Kaymer, making just his second appearance at Muirfield Village Golf Club, fired a 4-under-par 68 on Friday to move into a three-way tie for the lead after the second round at the Memorial Tournament.
Troy Merritt and South Korea’s Kyoung-Hoon Lee also sit at 9-under 135. Merritt carded a 66 and Lee shot 67 on Friday.
Kaymer, winner of two major championships, the 2010 PGA Championship and 2014 U.S. Open, as well as the 2014 Players Championship, has not won on the U.S. Tour since 2014. However, he finished tied for eighth in the British Masters three weeks ago.
The 34-year-old hasn’t posted a top-10 finish in the U.S. since tying for fourth at the Honda Classic in February 2017. He has missed three cuts on the U.S. Tour so far this season, including the PGA Championship two weeks ago, and his best finish so far in an official PGA event was a tie for 33rd place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
Kaymer credited a sharp short game for his resurgent performance, noting he has put concentrated effort into practicing his short game the last few years and feels as if it’s paying off.
“I mean, my short game was good,” he told The Golf Channel following his round. “That always is a good (feeling) when you know your short game is spot on. It frees you up a little bit in your long game, too.”
Kaymer, who started on the back nine, was bogey-free through 17 holes. He posted five birdies before missing the green on No. 9 and made bogey on his final hole of the day to drop into the tie with Merritt and Lee.
As for his absence in the winner’s circle the last five years, Kaymer is happy to be in position to get there again and plans to soak in the opportunity.
“It’s obviously a nice opportunity to have that chance of gaining some experience again in that type of situation (leading a PGA event),” he said. “Always those situations are not really predictable. Whatever happens tomorrow and Sunday, you can’t really prepare for.
“You can just go by experience, by calmness, trying to enjoy it. And that is pretty much what I have done for the last month — just trying to work on being calm overall as a person, not only on the golf course. The golf — we can all play golf. That’s not the problem, but overall, it’s just our mental attitude and our general attitude towards golf that affects us playing the game.”
Iowa native Merritt, 33, got off to a hot start Friday, carding three birdies plus an eagle at the par-5 seventh hole to shoot 31 on the front nine. However, he struggled on the back nine and balanced two bogeys with three birdies to finish 6 under.
The nine-year PGA veteran, winner of the 2018 Barbasol Championship last July, is going for his third PGA title. So far this season, Merritt has two top-10 finishes, including tying for 10th at the RBC Heritage in April.
Lee, a 27-year-old still seeking his first PGA title, enjoyed a bogey-free round that featured five birdies en route to his 67 on Friday. Lee’s best finish this season is tying for third at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April.
One shot back of the leaders at 8 under is Jordan Spieth, who also started the day one shot off the lead. He followed up his first-round 66 with a 2-under 70.
Spieth continues to ride the momentum from back-to-back top-10 results after finishing in a tie for third at the PGA Championship and a tie for eighth at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge.
“Very pleased,” Spieth said regarding his round. “Eight under on this golf course for two rounds is great. I’d take eight under the next two rounds, to be honest. … I felt great about my ball-striking today. It was the best I have hit it in a while.”
Knotted in a tie for fifth at 7 under are Bud Cauley (70), Patrick Cantlay (69), Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (68), Australia’s Adam Scott (66) and Rickie Fowler (68).
Five-time Memorial Tournament champion Tiger Woods, who posted an opening round 70, followed up with an even-par 72 and stands tied for 33rd at 2 under.
“It wasn’t as sharp as I would like it to be,” Woods said regarding his iron play. “I was hitting it flush, but I just wasn’t hitting it close enough and wasn’t giving myself enough looks at birdie putts when the greens are this soft.”
Englishman Justin Rose bounced back from a 75 on Thursday to shoot the low round of the day, a 9-under 63, to move into a tie for 10th place at 6 under. Rose carded two eagles, six birdies and one bogey on the day.
First-round leader Ryan Moore followed up his 65 with a 3-over 75 and fell into a tie for 18th.
Defending champ Bryson DeChambeau stands tied for 55th after shooting 70 for a 144 total.
Notables missing the cut, which was 1 over, included Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (71, 2-over total), Phil Mickelson (79, 5-over total), Australia’s Jason Day (74, 5-over total), Tony Finau (74, 7-over total) and Justin Thomas (80, 7-over total).
–Field Level Media