Palmer and Finau share Memorial lead, Tiger Woods makes cut amid fitness concerns

By Sports Desk July 17, 2020

Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau are tied for the lead at the halfway stage of the Memorial Tournament, where 15-time major champion Tiger Woods narrowly made the cut.

Palmer carded a four-under-par 68 to join fellow American Finau in a share of the one-stroke lead following Friday's second round in Dublin, Ohio.

Finau was the outright leader when day two started, but a second-round 69 saw him head into the weekend with company at nine under through 36 holes at Muirfield Village.

Spanish star Jon Rahm is a shot off the pace after a five-under-par 67, while Gary Woodland (70), Chez Reavie (67) and Luke List (68) are tied for fourth at six under.

After opening with a 73, former world number one Jason Day posted a 66 to catapult himself into outright seventh position – four shots behind Palmer and Finau.

Back-to-back 70s has Jordan Spieth four under at the halfway point, one stroke ahead of another American star – Justin Thomas, who used a five-under-par 67 to climb 43 positions into a tie for 16th.

World number one Rory McIlroy's struggles continued after an even-par 72 saw him slip seven shots off the pace.

McIlroy is yet to finish in the top 10 of a PGA Tour tournament since golf resumed in June amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a double bogey and four bogeys left the Northern Irishman tied for 21st.

As for Woods, the American superstar barely survived to prolong his PGA comeback into the weekend on Friday.

Woods – in action for the first time since February – made a decent start but his second round was far more concerning amid back problems.

The 44-year-old, who opened the event with a 71, signed for a four-over-par 76 to close the day three over, just one stroke above the cut line.

Three bogeys from his first nine holes left Woods in trouble, but the five-time Memorial Tournament winner rallied after the turn by birdieing two of his final three holes.

While the likes of Brooks Koepka (75), Patrick Reed (76) and Phil Mickelson (74) managed to make the cut, Rickie Fowler (68), Justin Rose (76) and Bryson DeChambeau (76) failed to qualify for the weekend.

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    Hagy made 10 birdies and two bogeys during his first round on the PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course in California.

    The American sits a shot clear of Byeong Hun An, who fired a 65 on the same course.

    Hagy is in the lead through 18 holes for the second time in his PGA Tour career and first since the 2017 Canadian Open.

    Kim Si-woo produced the best round of players who started on the PGA West Stadium Course, his 66 – which featured an eagle at the fifth hole – seeing him sit tie for third.

    Martin Laird and Max Homa are alongside Kim, two shots adrift of Hagy.

    A group of nine players opened with 67s, including Charl Schwartzel and Alex Noren.

    Defending champion Andrew Landry, meanwhile, carded a two-under 70 on the Stadium Course to be back in a tie for 61st.

  • McIlroy hits the front as under-fire Thomas toils after Abu Dhabi fog delay McIlroy hits the front as under-fire Thomas toils after Abu Dhabi fog delay

    Rory McIlroy put his lowest-scoring round at the Abu Dhabi Championship down to precision putting as the four-time major winner shot a first-round 64.

    The Northern Irishman, paired with the under-fire Justin Thomas, had to be patient as play was delayed amid fog but he made up for lost time in eye-catching fashion.

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    The delay meant not everyone managed to complete 18 holes, but McIlroy was pleased to be sitting pretty in the clubhouse. 

    "A lot of it was very good. I felt like I drove the ball well for the most part. Distance control was really good," McIlroy said of a display which saw him sink four birdies apiece on the front and back nine.

    "I think I started off really well and hit a lot of nice iron shots, but honestly it was probably the best I've putted these greens in Abu Dhabi probably in my whole career.

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    After becoming embroiled in recent controversy for his use of a homophobic slur, McIlroy's playing partner Thomas found himself well off the pace on one over.

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    Thomas subsequently apologised for his "inexcusable" use of the slur.

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    Thomas will be playing without shirt branding in Abu Dhabi after Ralph Lauren opted to end its partnership with the 27-year-old.

    Asked about the company's decision, Thomas replied: "I think disappointed is the wrong word. 

    "Obviously I was upset. But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision that they had to make. I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. 

    "Although I apologised, it's like it was then; it's an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process. 

    "They just felt like they needed to move on. That's exactly what I'm doing, as well. It was a great run that we had and a great partnership, but you know, things will work out on the best."

    Thomas confirmed conversations have been held with his other sponsors, adding: "I've had great communication with all of them. 

    "It was obviously not calls or e-mails I was hoping or planning to make but I needed to because I have some great long-lasting partnerships with all my sponsors. They know that's not the person that I am.

    "They know that's not how I act and although they are far from brushing it to the side just like I am, they understand that this is an opportunity for me to educate myself, grow, become a better person, and just like they hope, I know that I'll become a better man and a better person because of it, and they are going to kind of help me along that process."

    Thomas earned the backing of Rory McIlroy, who is confident his on-course rival will learn from his error in judgement.

    "I think he's already responded really, really well," the four-time major winner said. 

    "I think he realised he made a big mistake as soon as it was brought to him and he completely owned up to it. He said he messed up; he's going to try to be better. 

    "And you know, Justin is true to his word. He will be. If anything, it will probably just make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he's already a great guy."

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