David Lingmerth was at 2-over par following the first four holes of his round at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance however, something clicked and now after 36 holes, he is in the lead.
“I feel like I’ve been getting better every week,” Lingmerth said. “I’ve struggled with getting off to really bad starts in tournaments and just have to fight to make the cut. It was pretty stress-free after those four holes yesterday. Hopefully I can keep it going this weekend.”
Lingmerth has come close to winning on the PGA Tour before losing in a playoff at the Humana Challenge and placing second at the PLAYERS Championship, both in 2013.
Lingmerth’s turning point came on the seventh hole when he made a putt from the fringe. This was followed by a longer putt on the eighth hole, both part of a stretch of three consecutive holes birdied. He recorded four more birdies on the back nine including two on his past three holes to take the lead.
He was able to hit 12 of 14 fairways and reach 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
Lingmerth does have some pursuers that are on the prowl, with Jason Dufner, a stroke behind, among them.
Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner, is an Ohio native and has four eagles on the week thus far. The crescendo of round came on the 15th and 16th holes when he recorded back-to-back eagles.
The 15th hole was a par-five and one of four eagles on the day and seven on the tournament. The last time Dufner made two eagles in a round before this week was round two of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
The 16th, a par-three, was the first hole-in-one this week. It also was the first ace at the Memorial Tournament since Steve Stricker matched the feat in the second round of the 2008 event.
“I hit a 6-iron and I hit it pretty good and it looked pretty good from my vantage point,” said Dufner. “I was trending the wrong way and hit a pretty good shot on 14, great shot on 15. Kind of got the day going.”
Dufner started on the back nine and played the front nine at two-under par. He is coming off a tie for eighth place at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week.
The round of the day belonged to Andy Sullivan who fired an eight-under par 64 to put himself at -10 for the Memorial Tournament.
Sullivan started his round on the front nine and shot 32 on each side. His biggest birdie streak was from holes 12-14. The 18th hole has been the toughest of the week; however Sullivan hit his approach to about three feet and sank the birdie putt to conclude his round.
“From tee to green, I just hit the ball great today,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t miss a lot of fairways or greens and just holed a few more putts than I did yesterday.”
Sullivan tied with Ryan Moore for third place. Moore’s score was the lowest of any golfer who had an afternoon tee time. After Moore recorded double bogey on six, he birdied the final three holes.
“I know there’s a couple of holes I could make birdies on coming in,” said Moore. “I ended up getting three back on the last few holes was a great bonus.”
Things did not come as easy for overnight leaders Hideki Matusyama and Bo Van Pelt.
Matsuyama, the tournament’s defending champion shot a 1-under par round.
“I was struggling with my game up until Wednesday, and yesterday was a magical day,” Matsuyama said through interpreter Bob Turner. “Today was back to the same old grind, so it’s right to the practice range right now and see if I can get it figured out.”
Van Pelt finished even par on the day to stay at eight-under par.
“It hadn’t been the best of years for me, so anytime—if the lead doesn’t get any higher than 12 [under par], you’re in pretty good shape for the weekend,” Van Pelt said. “I just need to go out and make a bunch of birdies this weekend.”
Jim Furyk, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Rodgers, Justin Rose and Brendon Todd all round out the top-five.
The cut was at 1-under par, a stroke lower than last year’s number. Phil Mickelson, who shot a 4-under par round, is among the 71 golfers that will play the weekend.
“I’m going to try to improve on each round,” said Mickelson. “I improved four shots from yesterday so I felt like if I started too low, I couldn’t do that. I really like the golf course, I know that I’ve had troubles in the past, but I’m trying to figure out some ways to play some holes that have given me trouble.”
Among those who missed the cut were PLAYERS Champion Rickie Fowler and Kenny Perry, both of whom missed by one stroke.
This was Perry’s last PGA Tour event.
“All I wanted to do was come here and say thanks to Jack,” Perry said. “I wanted to come up and shake his hand, sit and talk to him a little bit in there. That’s been awesome.”
The third round of the Memorial Tournament will begin at 8:15 a.m.
Second round leaders/co-leaders have won the Memorial Tournament on 13 different occasions. Steve Stricker was the last in 2011… Rodgers is on a special tournament exemption and needs to finish in sole possession of 62nd place or higher to earn special temporary membership for the remainder of the season. There were seven bogey-free rounds Friday: Sullivan, Lingmerth, Andrew Putnam, Brendan Steele, Zac Blair, Matt Jones and Troy Merritt.