Brendon Todd’s putter is more than making up for any lack of power off the tee at the World Golf Championship. Todd shot a 5-under 65 Friday and grabbed a two-stroke lead through 36 holes of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tenn.
“I have not hit the ball as crisply the first two days and maybe some other tournaments this year, but I’ve probably putted the best of any tournament this year so far,” Todd said. “I’m really excited about how I played and looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.”
Todd trailed defending champion Brooks Koepka after the first round by two strokes. He quickly erased that deficit and took the lead to himself with a bogey-free, five-birdie round for a 129 total at TPC Southwind. Rickie Fowler closed with birdies on his final two holes for a 67 and 131 total just behind Todd thanks to his own putter.
“I feel like I’m heading in the right direction,” Fowler said. “I think that’s been my main goal is go through some changes for the better.”
Koepka had the lead to himself at 10 under before falling apart on his back nine with a double bogey and two bogeys. He finished with a 71, his first time over par at this course in seven rounds. He was four strokes back, tied with Byeong Hun An (65) and Chez Reavie (67).
“I just putted bad,” Koepka said. “It wasn’t really anything other than that.”
Jon Rahm shot a 74 and now is 4 over in his first event as No. 1 in the world. Justin Thomas, who could go back to No. 1 in the world with a win, was seven strokes back after a 70.
PGA Tour — Kyle Stanley had another eagle in a 14-point round to take the lead into the weekend at the Barracuda Championship in Truckee, Calif., the PGA Tour’s lone modified Stableford scoring event. Stanley had a 22-point total for a two-stroke lead over Matthias Schwab, Robert Streb, and Branden Grace in high altitude at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Course. Players receive 8 points for albatross, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey, and minus-3 for double bogey or worse. “Actually, I’m not sure what I shot,” said Stanley, who had a 5-under 66 and needs a victory to get into next week’s PGA Championship.
Ouimet — Chris Francoeur, a rising senior at Rhode Island via St. John’s Prep, birdied the final two holes at Woodland Golf Club in Newton to win the Championship Division of the annual Ouimet Memorial Tournament. Francoeur’s 10-under-205 total earned him a 1-shot victory over Nick Maccario, who was also the runner-up at the Mass. Amateur two weeks ago. The two shot matching 5-under-66s at Woodland a day after matching 67s at Framingham Country Club, which hosted the first two rounds. Frank Vana Jr. was the runaway winner of the Lowery (Senior) Division, the 57-year-old’s closing 68 good for a 6-under total and 10-shot victory. The Women’s Division similarly had just one finisher under par: 18-year-old Anne Walsh of The Country Club, who shot 69 at Woodland to finish at 3-under for a 4-shot win.
LPGA — Danielle Kang was bogey-free at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, her 6-under 66 good for a one-shot lead in the LPGA Drive On Championship. It’s the first LPGA Tour event since the Women’s Australian Open on Feb. 16, and has attracted 130 players from some 30 countries, though it was missing multiple South Korean stars, including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko. Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England also played bogey-free for a 67. The lone Korean among the top 10, a rarity given the country’s strength in women’s golf, was Hee Young Park at 70. Nelly Korda, the highest-ranked player at No. 2 in the world, shot 76.
Champions — Tommy Armour III and Rhode Island’s Billy Andrade each opened with a 6-under 66 at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Mich., to share the lead by one shot over Bernhard Langer as the PGA Tour Champions returned for the first time since March. Armour wasn’t in the field until he arrived at the course Monday and learned Brandt Jobe had withdrawn. Former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (68), former Masters champion Mike Weir (70), and K.J. Choi (72) made their PGA Tour Champions debut; each turned 50 during the shutdown. Ernie Els, who won the Hoag Classic the last time the PGA Tour Champions played in March, opened with a 69 and made a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, using a 6-iron from 192 yards.
European — Overnight leader Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez of Spain held off a spirited challenge from England’s Sam Horsfield to retain a share of the lead at the Hero Open in Birmingham, England, after 36 holes. After setting a course record 10-under 62 in the opening round at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club, Garcia Rodriguez cooled somewhat in the second with a 3-under 69 that included birdies on the last two holes. Horsfield, meanwhile, completed a sparkling 9-under 63 that included an eagle and seven birdies for a share of the lead with Garcia Rodriguez at 13 under. Miguel Angel Jimenez, making his record 707th European Tour appearance, shot an even-par 72 for a five-way share of sixth place on 8 under.