Dublin, OH — The morning wave of golfers at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide scored over half a stroke lower than the afternoon grouping and Friday several golfers took advantage moving inside of the cut line.
Graham DeLaet was at +2 three holes into his second round after three putting from nearly 62 feet away. Instead of this story being about DeLaet missing the cut, he rallied shooting a 5-under par 67 and moving to -4 for the Memorial Tournament.
“I played well and made some putts, the weather was perfect, the greens were perfect so it was nice to get into a rhythm and play well,” he said. “I hit the ball better, that was the thing. I gave myself a lot more chances than I did yesterday.”
The highlight of DeLaet’s round was an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole. DeLaet was 243 yards away and stuck his approach to four feet, draining his straight in putt for eagle.
“That was nice,” said DeLaet. “I was kind of between clubs and just hammered a four pretty much as hard as I could and when it landed on the green it looked like it could have been very good. As we got up there it seemed like it got closet and closer.”
DeLaet ranks 24th this season on the PGA TOUR with an average driving distance of 300.00 yards and used his length to take advantage of the par-5 11th hole, drilling a drive 345 yards, and then two-putted for his fourth of five birdies in the round.
“That hole I kind of just aimed down the right side,” DeLaet said. “If I hit a little pull draw that’s good and if it’s in the rough, you just played it like a 3-shot hole. You can’t get too greedy off that tee. I actually just tugged it a little bit and it was perfect.”
What helped keep DeLaet’s round going was birdies on three of the four par-5 holes, with the other hole being the aforementioned eagle.
DeLaet echoed Lucas Glover’s statements about taking advantage with the par-5’s.
“There are a lot of holes out here you can make birdie on but there are also a lot of holes that can jump up and get you,” he explained. “If you can get the par-5’s and I got them at 5-under today, if you can even play them at 2 or 3-under, you’d be pretty happy.”
It is clear that DeLaet enjoys playing at Muirfield Village Golf Club and memories such as his 2013 Presidents Cup Sunday match play victory over Jordan Spieth help explain why.
“I love this place,” said DeLaet. “Obviously it’s Mr. Nicklaus’s tournament and I have a lot of respect for him. You come here hopefully playing well but I do have some good memories here and that obviously helps.”
Lowry ready to move on from last year’s U.S. Open
Shane Lowry was another golfer who took advantage of perfect conditions posting a round of 4-under par 68 and placing him at -4 after two rounds at the Memorial Tournament.
“I’m putting that down to a bad few holes finish,” he said. “I struggled a bit on the back nine. I’m obviously 10 behind but you never know. If I do well tomorrow we’ll see what happens.”
Lowry, the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational champion, was mainly powered by a 5-under 31 on his first nine which included no blemishes on the scorecard. None of his birdies were beyond 16 feet.
It was the back-nine which halted Lowry’s momentum as his birdie on the par-5 15th hole was sandwiched by bogeys on 14 and 16.
It is no secret that the U.S. Open begins June 15 and thus is less than two weeks away. Lowry may very well be a more sought after than usual interview subject.
Lowry has had a couple of rough U.S. Opens in which he was upset at being put in a 2014 first and second round group that infamously paired him with Kevin Stadley and Brendon de Jonge, something he intentionally felt was “mean” and “insensitive” since it was perceived as a jab at the trio’s weight.
Last year of course, Lowry held the third round lead by four shots but shot a 6-over par 76 and placed second alongside Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy, three shots behind winner Dustin Johnson.
Lowry was asked Friday about his close call and seemed annoyed by the question, specifically the amount of times it has been asked since last June.
He explained that the focus is not on Erin Hills in a couple of weeks, but rather here at Muirfield Village where he wants to earn as many FedEx Cup points as possible.
“I don’t know if you haven’t seen my results from the last year but they haven’t been good,” said Lowry. “The U.S. Open is in a couple of weeks and I’m going to have to answer that question a lot. It’s so far behind me, I’ve totally forgotten about it. It was hard to take for the first while but listen, I’m here now and I just want to play well tomorrow. I’m not even looking at the U.S. Open. This is a massive tournament in its own right and I need to get a few FedEx Cup points under me, so a big weekend ahead of me.”
Cauley rallies to make the cut
Having a +4 next to your name one hole into your second round is not usually a good sign, but that was what Bud Cauley had to face as he battled to make the cut.
Cauley first had to overcome an opening round of 3-over par 75 and the feeling that nothing was really off with his game, he just was not executing enough to score well.
“I struggled yesterday, it was playing tough in the afternoon,” he said. “I really didn’t play that poorly but it was just playing tough so you have to hit quality shots. I knew it would play a little easier in the morning and that I wasn’t that far off so I could get a few back.”
After the round, Cauley bogeyed the first recording a three putt. He quickly recovered making birdies on both the second and third holes.
“It was frustrating to start with a three putt, I hit a really good iron shot and it just caught a slope and rolled away but it was nice to get it back on number two,” said Cauley. “That kind of settled me down a little bit and was able to make a few more after that.”
Cauley then faced another test after recording another bogey on the par-3 fourth hole and again was able to collect himself and birdie both the fifth and sixth holes.
“I knew I was swinging well so I knew if I stopped three putting that I could probably have a good day,” Cauley said of his mindset following the second bogey. “I was playing well so I just tried to calm down and hit my shots.”
Cauley cleaned up his scorecard more on his second nine with his lone bogey coming on the par-4 17th hole. Still, Cauley birdied the 11, 13, 14 and 15 before concluding his round with birdie on 18.
He heads into the weekend at 2-under par, assured of playing two more rounds, something which certainly was not secure at round’s beginning.