Mon, 02 Oct 2023

Justin Suh grabs lead at star-packed Memorial

Field Level Media
03 Jun 2023, 09:55 GMT+10

Golf fans are starting to learn the name Justin Suh as he contends at big tournament after big tournament.

For his latest trick, Suh fired a 6-under-par 66 in his second round to take over the lead at the Memorial Tournament on Friday in Dublin, Ohio.

Suh stands at 8-under 136 through two rounds, one ahead of Japan's Hideki Matsuyama in second. Matsuyama shot the round of the day -- a bogey-free, 7-under 65 -- to leap into contention at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Patrick Cantlay (67) and David Lipsky (69) are tied for third at 6 under. Other big-name players like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth are lurking at the tour's latest "designated event," but everyone is looking up at Suh.

The 25-year-old won the Korn Ferry Tour Finals last year en route to securing his PGA Tour card. He has excelled at difficult courses, tying for fifth at the Honda Classic, tying for sixth at The Players Championship and shooting 69-68 to start the PGA Championship before fading to a T26 finish.

"I've done a lot better in I think tougher tournament conditions," Suh said, "and I think just the way we kind of piece a course together in our strategy and how we play courses, I think the tougher it is, the better. I think off the tee, I find a lot of fairways and I try not to get into too much big trouble. I definitely enjoy faster greens."

Suh rolled in seven birdies on Friday and made just one bogey. That bogey came at the par-3 16th, when his tee shot found a greenside bunker, but he got the stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 18th after his approach shot landed inside 10 feet of the pin.

Suh said he was "pretty aware" he was putting for the outright lead.

"That leaderboard is pretty big on 18, so I saw that," Suh said. "... I've been in this situation before, so I think -- I mean, Hideki's also a great guy. I really enjoy playing with him, so I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun."

Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, is vying for his first PGA Tour win since the Sony Open in January 2022. He started his Friday round on the back nine and made four birdies before adding three more at Nos. 5, 7 and 8.

Matsuyama drained a birdie putt from about 33 feet at the par-3 eighth hole -- right after making a 25-footer for birdie at No. 7.

"To make those putts at 7 and 8 were huge," Matsuyama said.

Cantlay also started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 5, 7 and 9 coming in to finish a 67 with just one bogey on the card. Cantlay is comfortable at Muirfield Village, having won Jack Nicklaus' tournament in 2019 and 2021.

He said the course was scorable in the morning wave, but playing it in the afternoon sun is another matter.

"It's pretty obvious when you're out there (Thursday) afternoon that birdies are hard to come by," Cantlay said. "I think I made 15 pars and felt really good about it. There were a lot of holes playing difficult in the afternoon (Thursday). I imagine that's what it's going to be like this weekend."

Si Woo Kim of South Korea shot a 68 and is 5 under, tied for fifth with Mark Hubbard (70).

McIlroy, the world No. 3 from Northern Ireland, carded 68 to get to a tie for seventh at 4 under with the likes of Rickie Fowler (68). World No. 2 Rahm of Spain opened bogey-bogey but steadied from there, birdieing his final hole to shoot a second straight 70 and join the group at 4 under, which also includes Austrian Sepp Straka (69) and Patrick Rodgers (70).

Spieth made three bogeys in a five-hole stretch on his way to an even-par 72, keeping him at 3 under. Tied with him for 12th are Lee Hodges (69), Wyndham Clark (71) and Englishman Luke Donald (69), the former world No. 1 who hasn't won on tour since 2012.

First-round leader Davis Riley followed an opening 67 with a 6-over 78, dropping him all the way back to 1 over for the tournament.

Notables missing the cut of 3 over include Jason Day of Australia (4 over), Cameron Young (5 over), Justin Thomas (6 over), Corey Conners of Canada (8 over) and Tom Kim of South Korea (10 over).

Defending champion Billy Horschel followed a difficult first-round 84 with an even-par 72 on Friday. He missed the cut at 12 over.

--Field Level Media

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