A nice 65 confirms Rory McIlroy is ready to defend
McIlroy leads at Memphis by a stroke
St. Jude Classic, noon, Ch. 7
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rory McIlroy snapped his string of three consecutive missed cuts in style Friday, shooting a 5-under 65 to take the lead into the weekend at the St. Jude Classic.
McIlroy came to Memphis looking to tune up his game before heading to San Francisco for his U.S. Open title defense at The Olympic Club. He birdied three of his final four holes, and had an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys to match his lowest PGA Tour round this year.
With a birdie on No. 18, McIlroy reached 7 under to break out of a four-way tie for the lead.
"It's nice to see my name on that part of the leaderboard," McIlroy said. "It's not nice when you're struggling to make the cut on a Friday afternoon. It was great. It's nice to be through to the weekend, obviously. It's obviously even nicer to be leading and have a great chance."
Jeff Maggert, tied for the first-round lead with John Merrick, shot a 68 to match J.B. Holmes (64) and Kevin Stadler (65) at 6 under. Merrick had a 69 to join Chad Campbell (67) and Kevin Kisner (66) at 5 under.
Davis Love III, the Americans' Ryder Cup captain, had a 68 and was tied with Padraig Harrington (68) at 4 under. John Daly birdied his first three holes on his back nine to get to 5 under but finished with a 69 and was tied at 3 under — making his fourth cut in five events.
No one has ever won a PGA Tour event, then followed up the next week by winning the U.S. Open. After playing only two rounds each at The Players Championship, the BMW PGA Championship in England and then the Memorial last week, McIlroy isn't thinking about history. His goal in Memphis is playing as much competitive golf as possible while honing his game.
"I saw a lot of positive signs with my ball striking. Hit a lot of good iron shots and drivers. So that was something that I was really working on the last couple of weeks and feels like it's coming together for me. So excited to be in this position for the weekend. This is really what I wanted heading into next week," McIlroy said.
"For the time being, my mind is focused on trying to win this golf tournament."
Holmes had his low round of the year as he works his way back from brain surgery last September.
Former Husky Troy Kelly had a 71 for a 1-under 139 and is tied for 22nd. Gig Harbor's Kyle Stanley had a 70 and is at 141, tied for 52nd. Former Husky Richard H. Lee missed the cut at 74-69.
• Se Ri Pak, playing for the first time since injuring her left shoulder in early April, shot a 1-under 71 to take a one-shot lead in the LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y. Pak was at 3-under 141, one shot ahead of Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Mika Miyazato and Sandra Gal. No state players made the cut with Jimin Kang, a graduate of King's High School, going 73-82, former Husky Paige Mackenzie went 80-78, and Wendy Ward, who lives in Edwall, near Spokane, went 79-79.
• Bill Glasson shot a 3-under 69 to take a two-stroke lead over Russ Cochran at the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Ala. Glasson had a 9-under 135 total at Shoal Creek, and has made only one bogey in the first 36 holes. Pullman High graduate Kirk Triplett had a 73 and is tied for 18th at 143. Seattle product Fred Couples had a 72 for a 145 total, and is tied for 26th.
• England's Lee Westwood shot a 4-under 68 to maintain a three-stroke lead at 16 under after the third round of the European Tour's Nordea Masters in Bro, Sweden.
• Amy Anderson teamed to win two matches to help the United States take a 4-2 lead over Britain and Ireland after the first day of the Curtis Cup in Nairn, Scotland. Anderson and Tiffany Lua beat Holly Clyburn and Bronte Law 2 and 1 in the morning foursomes, and Anderson and Emily Tubert topped Pam Pretswell and Charley Hull 4 and 3 in the afternoon fourballs. U.S. captain Pat Cornett broke an ankle in a cart mishap.