|Steve Stricker’s hole-in-one at No. 8, his 17th, led to a 5-under 67 and a three-shot lead after two rounds at Muirfield Village. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press)|
Stricker is an ace at Memorial
On a course with such a fine line between birdies and bogeys, Steve Stricker settled for perfection yesterday in the Memorial with a hole-in-one that put him in control at Muirfield Village.
Stricker used a 6-iron on the 188-yard eighth hole — his 17th hole of the second round — then birdied his final hole for a 5-under-par 67. Instead of being part of a five-way tie for the lead, he wound up three shots clear going into the weekend at Dublin, Ohio.
“It’s a shock when you see that go in, obviously, but in a good way,’’ Stricker said. “A great way to finish the round.’’
Stricker said the eighth hole has given him fits over the years, which is just as well. So has this tournament. In 11 previous appearances at the tournament Jack Nicklaus created, Stricker never has finished in the top 10.
Stricker was at 9-under-par 135, three shots clear of Rory McIlroy (72), Ricky Barnes (70), Jonathan Byrd (67), and the resurgent Rod Pampling, who lost his PGA Tour card last year and had a bogey-free 66.
McIlroy already has made 13 birdies over two rounds, but also has five bogeys and a sloppy double bogey yesterday on the 14th.
Rickie Fowler, the runner-up at the Memorial last year, has only 12 pars in 36 holes. He was at 3-under 141, six shots behind but still very much in the hunt.
Luke Donald, in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world, had another strong rally by finishing with back-to-back birdies for a 69 that left him at 5-under 139.
LPGA — Third-ranked Jiyai Shin shot a 5-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over playing partner Sandra Gal after the wind-whipped opening round of the ShopRite Classic at Galloway Township, N.J.
Catriona Matthew was two shots back, and fourth-ranked Cristie Kerr, No. 6 I.K. Kim, Karen Stupples, Vicky Hurst, and Lindsey Wright opened with 69s.
Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer had 72s.
Nationwide — Steve Wheatcroft birdied the final five holes for an 11-under 60 in the Prince George’s County Open, missing a chance for a 59 when his 22-foot eagle putt on No. 18 settled about 15 inches from the hole
The 33-year-old former Indiana player had a 16-under 126 total on the University of Maryland Golf Course to take a seven-stroke lead over Greg Owen (68).
European — Four days after qualifying for his first US Open, Alexander Noren overcame windy conditions to shoot a 4-under 67 and lead defending champion Graeme McDowell by one stroke after the second round of the Wales Open at Newport.
The 127th-ranked Noren made birdies on four of his last five holes to total 8-under 134.
Champions — Mark Brooks battled through hot, breezy conditions to shoot a 6-under 65 for a two-stroke lead over Mark Calcavecchia and Peter Senior in the Principal Charity Classic at West Des Moines, Iowa.