No rib, no problem: Merritt among leaders at Memorial

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
Kyoung-Hoon Lee watches in disbelief as a birdie attempt breaks too soon.

DUBLIN, Ohio — There’s a three-way tie for the lead at 9-under par after two rounds at The Memorial Tournament and one of those leaders isn’t too far removed from major surgery.

Kyoung-Hoon Lee had a bogey-free round with five birdies Friday, Martin Kaymer balanced one bogey with five birdies and Troy Merritt overcame two bogeys by sinking six birdies and an eagle to shoot 66 Friday.

Merritt’s success comes a few months after having a rib removed. “Not knowing it, I played all summer with a large blood clot that ran from my chest down to my left elbow,” he said.

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
Troy Merritt is in a three-way tie for the lead after the second round.

About two weeks after winning the Barbasol Championship last July, he went to the doctor after his arm turned purple and was diagnosed with a condition that was caused by his top rib and clavicle being too close together and pinching a vein. Merritt continued to play while taking blood thinners and wearing a compression sleeve. “This past January I decided to have the rib taken out so I didn’t have to be on blood thinners anymore.”

He’s working on getting back into shape to play PGA courses every week and has himself in a good place heading into the weekend.

“The course is still very scoreable and very gettable,” he said. “I think you’ll see a few guys get in double digits and stay there.”

Not having that rib in his chest may help Merritt get to double digits over the weekend.

“It’s freed me up a little bit more on my golf swing,” he said. “My tempo has been better ever since it was out. I had tight scalenus (the muscles extending from the neck to the first and second ribs) throughout the years, and I get to the top of my backswing and it would pinch a little bit and cause me to get a little quick.

“Now they’re not tight anymore and I can take my time and, as a result, I’ve hit the ball quite well in 2019.”

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
Kiradech Aphibarnrat chips out of a greenside bunker during Friday’s play at The Memorial.

The best round of the day belonged to 2010 Memorial winner Justin Rose. His round of 64 included a stretch where he went eagle, birdie, eagle and he sunk five more birdies to go with one bogey on the day.

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
First-round leader Ryan Moore misses a par putt on his first hole Friday.

First-round leader Ryan Moore was unable to duplicate the success he had Thursday. With four bogeys and a double-bogey to go with only three birdies, he dropped three strokes on the day and fell to 4-under for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth was one shot behind the Moore Thursday and is one shot behind the trio of leaders after Friday’s play. He shot a round of 70 Friday to get to 8-under.

Six golfers sit two shots back at 7-under.

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
Emiliano Grillo finds himself two shots back of the leaders after Friday’s play.

Emiliano Grillo is in that group but was poised to have the lead to himself before a bogey on 17 and double bogey on 18 marred what had been a round where he was shooting 7-under.

“I played great for 17 ½ holes, pretty much. Just on 18, it could have been maybe a 4 in there, but it is what it is,” he said. “But I played absolutely great yesterday and today. I’m happy where my game is at.”

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
A year after missing the cut and suffering severe injuries in a car crash near the course, Bud Cauley is two shots off The Memorial lead.

Bud Cauley briefly held the lead Friday morning and also is part of the pack two shots off the lead. That’s quite a change from last year where he missed the cut and later that night was in a car accident where suffered a concussion, six broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken left leg.

“Once I got here it’s actually been a little bit easier than the weeks leading up to it, just wondering how I would feel or what I would think about,” Cauley said. “I’m just trying to treat it like a normal week.”

He was getting words of encouragement from the gallery as he made his way around Miurfield Village Friday.

“I had quite a few people say nice to see you back out here, we’re pulling for your, things like that. Unfortunately, it didn’t help me hit any more fairways, but it was nice to hear,” Cauley said.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau bounced back from a 74 on Thursday shooting a 70 Friday to get back to even par and make the weekend.

Notable golfers missing the cut included Jason Day, who is a member at Muirfield Village but has never finished better than 15th at the tournament, and Phil Mickelson. Both were five shots over par after two rounds. Matt Kuchar is leading the FedEx Cup standings, but shot 73-74 to miss the cut. Rory McIlroy, fourth in the FedEx Cup standings and ranked fourth in the world, also missed the cut.

The Memorial TournamentRound 2 May 31 2019
Phil Mickelson signs autographs for fans after his round Friday.

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