DUBLIN, Ohio — Cameron Smith’s second-round 69 placed him atop the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide leaderboard, halfway through the 47th playing of the event.
“It was pretty solid,” said Smith, who leads by one. “The front nine was really good. The back nine, my swing got away from me a little bit, but stuck in there pretty good.
“I think I’m just happy with the way I stuck in there. Really happy with where my short game’s at. I feel like I’m rolling the ball really good. Just need to sort out that longer stuff.”
Smith kept things fairly routine in his opening few holes, and then found his first birdie of the day on the fifth hole, which he promptly gave back on 6. The positive momentum then continued with a birdie on the seventh hole.
The 12th hole proved to be Smith’s highlight as he holed out from off the green, 35 feet away from the hole. He would add a birdie on the very next hole and keep a clean scorecard for the rest of the way.
With a victory, Smith would join Tiger Woods as the only golfer to win the Players Championship and the Memorial Tournament in the same season. Smith also won the Sentry Tournament of Champions this season.
K.H. Lee is one of Smith’s two closest pursuers, one shot off the lead as his front-nine inconsistencies gave way to birdies on 12 and 15. Lee is looking for his second win of the season after repeating as the AT&T Byron Nelson champion.
Denny McCarthy helped his cause in regards to earning his first PGA Tour victory as he finds himself a shot behind the lead.
McCarthy is the PGA TOUR leader in Strokes Gained: Putting since the 2017-18 season at plus-228.92.
“I think it’s hand-eye,” McCarthy attributed. “I played a lot of sports growing up. I can shoot a basketball pretty well. I play ping-pong pretty well. Just feel, hand-eye. I don’t know what else to say besides that.
“I’ve played golf for 25 years now. So just a lot of trial-and-error things that have always worked over the last four, five years for me.”
McCarthy made one of the shots of the day on the par-3 fourth hole when his tee shot was 40 feet short of the flag and from off the green his putter once again served him well, rolling it in for birdie.
“I was pretty comfortable with being short,” said McCarthy. “I missed the 7-iron a little bit. If I hit it good, it would have probably covered the front. The fairways are so tight here in front of the green where I was always going to pull putter there, they roll so smooth. It’s almost like just a slower green, if you will.
“That was a bonus. I was just trying to get that one pretty close. Obviously trying to make it. But just trying to get it up there dead, and that was a bonus for that one to go in.”
McCarthy has put himself in position for the past few events, but has been undone by various weekend issues.
“The more I get in this position, the more comfortable I get,” he stated. “I’ve been really comfortable. I’m really just trying to get better in my game, honestly. It’s great that I’m playing well, but I’m trying to just improve as a golfer, really. I feel like my caddie and I, Derek (Smith), did a really good job just staying in the process and not really worrying about the result of each shot.”
Adam Hadwin recorded the first hole in one in PGA Tour competition with his 7-iron on the par-3 16th hole. Media members were treated to an assortment of beers after the ace.
“You’ve got to hit a golf shot and it came off perfect,” said Hadwin. “It was cutting right to it. I’ve played this game long enough. I’ve hit enough perfect golf shots that don’t end up getting close to a hole-in-one, so there’s a lot of luck involved with that of where it lands on the green and stuff. I hit the exact shot that I wanted to in that instance.”
THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT PRESENTED BY WORKDAY LEADERBOARD
- Cameron Smith -8
T2. K.H. Lee -7
T2. Denny McCarthy -7
T4. Billy Horschel -6
T4. Luke List -6
T4. Davis Riley -6
T4. Johnattan Vegas -6
T4. Cameron Young -6
T9. Rory McIlroy -5
T9. Francesco Molinari -5
T9. Keith Mitchell -5
T9. Aaron Wise
Missed the cut: Matt Fitzpatrick (+3), 2016 Memorial Tournament Champion William McGirt (+3), Collin Morikawa (+4), Marc Leishman (+5), 2017 Memorial Tournament champion Jason Dufner (+6), Bryson DeChambeau (+9), 2021 U.S. Amateur Champion James Piot (+9),