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Brendon Todd takes 2-stro-ke lead with 65 at WGC in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Brendon Todd’s putter is greater than making up for any lack of energy off the tee at the World Golf Championship.

Todd shot a 5-under 65 Friday and grabbed a two-stro-ke lead by 36 holes of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

“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 stated. “I’m really excited about how I played and looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.”

Todd trailed defending champion Brooks Koepka after the primary spherical by two strokes. He rapidly erased that deficit and took the lead to himself with a bogey-free, five-birdie spherical for a 129 complete at the World Golf Championships occasion at TPC Southwind.

Rickie Fowler closed with birdies on his remaining two holes for a 67 and 131 complete simply behind Todd due to his personal putter.

“I feel like I’m heading in the right direction,” Fowler stated. “I think that’s been my main goal is go through some changes for the better. Sometimes you’ve got to take that step back to take two steps forward. I feel like we already made the step back. I feel like we’ve made a step forward. I’m looking for that next step.”

Koepka had the lead to himself at 10 beneath earlier than falling aside on his again 9 with a double bogey and two bogeys. He completed with a 71, his first time over par at this course in seven rounds. He was 4 strokes again, tied with Byeong Hun An (65) and Chez Reavie (67).

But Koepka stated he wasn’t anxious with 36 holes remaining.

“I just putted bad,” Koepka stated. “It wasn’t really anything other than that. Felt stress-free other than just missing some short ones. On the back nine they felt good, they were just missing, and on the front they just weren’t good putts.”

Jon Rahm shot a 74 and now’s four over in his first occasion as No. 1 in the world.

Justin Thomas, who might return to No. 1 in the world with a win, was seven strokes again after a 70. Rory McIlroy’s bid to be No. 1 once more could have to attend till the PGA championship subsequent week. He shot a 66, however is 10 strokes again.

This spherical began early Friday morning to keep away from anticipated thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Todd gained back-to-back tournaments final November for his first win on tour since profitable the Byron Nelson in 2014. Since the return to play in June, Todd missed two cuts with his greatest end a tie for 11th at the Travelers Championship.

On Friday, his putter labored properly sufficient that he wanted solely 24 putts in a spherical that featured a 50-footer for birdie on the par-3 No. 14. Todd hit a 6-iron to the left aspect of the inexperienced, and he needed to roll the ball over a mound breaking left at least 5 ft.

“My caddie really kind of set me up with a good spot there beyond the hole to aim at, and I just focused all on speed,” Todd stated. “It happened to just drift right there in the middle of the hole. Bonus birdie there, but that’s what you’ve got to do to win golf tournaments sometimes, and that’s how you sho-ot low rounds.”

Todd sunk a 13-footer on the par-Three island inexperienced of No. 11 to go 9 beneath simply as Koepka grew to become the primary to achieve double digits beneath par.

Koepka then double-bogeyed No. 2 when he three-putted after lacking a par putt from Three ft. His putter value him a birdie probability on the par-5 No. 3.

That put Todd atop the leaderboard at 9 beneath, and his putter helped him birdie consecutive holes together with the massive putt on No. 14. He sunk a 12-footer on No. 15 to go 11 beneath and a four-stro-ke lead till Fowler’s birdie-birdie end.

Fowler would possibly’ve had a chunk of the lead if not for hitting his tee shot into the water in entrance of the island inexperienced at No. 11. He rebounded by hitting his method 175 yards on No. 17 to three ft for birdie, and he chipped in from simply off the entrance of the inexperienced on No. 18.

“It’s been nice to see some putts go in,” Fowler stated. “These greens are about as good as they get. It’s been nice to kind of have them stay on the softer side and make it very playable when you’re driving in the fairway.”

DIVOTS: Todd made solely 5 of 39 cuts mixed in 2016, ‘17 and ’18. He received his tour card again by ending seventh in factors on the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in 2019. … Tommy Fleetwood holed out from 106 yards to wrap up his spherical with a 67.

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