Troy Merritt earned a three-point lead following the third round of the Barracuda Championship.

Merritt surged to the top of the leaderboard thanks to his 14-point performance at the PGA Tour tournament, which uses the Modified Stableford format.

With all eyes on the star-studded WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, two-time PGA Tour champion and last year's runner-up Merritt starred in Truckee, California on Saturday.

Merritt's eight birdies and two bogeys saw the American move to 33 points through 54 holes, ahead of Emiliano Grillo and Maverick McNealy.

Robert Streb is on 28 points, while overnight leader Kyle Stanley (22) plummeted to a share of 10th position.

Brendon Todd will take a one-shot lead from Byeong Hun An into the final round of a stacked WGC-FedEX St. Jude Invitational, with Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas in the hunt.

Scores of 64 and 65 over the first two rounds saw Todd lead the way by two shots at the halfway stage but a mixed one-under 69 on Saturday left him at 12 under for the tournament and allowed the chasing pack to close in.

Todd, who won back-to-back titles in November after a five-year trophy drought, was one under through the first nine and stayed that way after mixing three birdies with as many bogeys on the way home.

Byeong made double bogey at the par-three 11th to fall back to level par for his round but a streak of four birdies from the 13th to the 16th saw him sign for a 66 and left him just a shot back.

Fowler was flying after going out in 32, only for bogeys at the 12th and 17th to check his progress and leave him at two back on 10 under.

Koepka toiled early in his round as a double bogey at the second and another dropped shot at six saw him fighting to remain among the leaders.

But in typical fashion, defending champion Koepka made six birdies from the ninth to the 16th hole.

A bogey at 17 derailed his momentum slightly but at three shots back Koepka is well in contention heading in Sunday.

Thomas' 66 means he is four shots back, the former world number one going four under on the back nine – including three straight birdies from the 15th to the 17th.

Phil Mickelson, Matt Fitzpatrick, Louis Oosthuizen and Chez Reavie are all five shots back.

Kyle Stanley grabbed the lead at the halfway mark of the Barracuda Championship on Friday.

Stanley moved onto 22 points at the PGA Tour event, which is played in the Modified Stableford format.

The American made six birdies, an eagle and three bogeys to score 14 points in the second round in Truckee, California.

Matthias Schwab (20 points), Robert Streb (20) and Branden Grace (20) are tied for second.

Last year's runner-up Troy Merritt and Maverick McNealy are on 19 points.

Brooks Koepka lamented his putting after struggling to a one-over 71 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Friday.

The overnight leader dropped to a tie for third, four shots adrift of Brendon Todd (65) at the halfway mark of the PGA Tour event in Memphis.

Koepka rued his performance with the putter in the second round, in which he mixed three birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey.

"I just putted bad. It wasn't really anything other than that. Felt stress-free other than just missing some short ones," the American defending champion said.

"On the back nine they felt good, they were just missing, and on the front they just weren't good putts."

Koepka added: "I felt like I did everything we were trying to do, just wasn't working, wasn't seeing the line.

"Even yesterday I said I didn't feel quite comfortable over anything inside five feet and today it just felt kind of the same."

Koepka is tied for third with Chez Reavie and Byeong Hun An, two shots behind Rickie Fowler and four adrift of Todd.

Brendon Todd held a two-shot lead heading into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational after defending champion Brooks Koepka faltered following a stunning opening round.

Play for round two was brought forward and the field went out in threes on Friday due to the threat of inclement weather in Memphis, and Todd led the way through 36 holes at 11 under after shooting a fine bogey-free 65.

Todd, who won back-to-back tournaments in November after a five-year trophy drought, picked up two shots on the way out and three more on the way home – sinking brilliant birdie putts at the 14th and 15th.

Koepka, who will defend his US PGA Championship next week, had started this tournament with a 62 to match his career-low score on the PGA Tour.

The former world number one started round two on the back nine and was ticking along nicely as birdies at his second and ninth hole moved him to 10 under.

But a double bogey immediately after the turn coupled with two more dropped shots either side of a birdie at the sixth – his 15th – saw him sign for a one-over 71, leaving him four back of Todd.

Rickie Fowler finished birdie-birdie to get within two of Todd after a 67 on Friday, with An Byeong-hun and Chez Reavie in a tie for third with Koepka.

Rory McIlroy recovered from an opening-round 73 with a four-under 66 but stood 10 shots off the pace, while world number one Jon Rahm was four over and Justin Thomas (-4) and Dustin Johnson (-3) each had significant ground to make up.

Former winner Padraig Harrington has pulled out of next week's US PGA Championship, saying it is a "prudent" move amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The 2008 champion said he would be remaining in Ireland rather than travelling to San Francisco for what will be the first major of the year.

Harrington, who has also twice triumphed at the Open Championship, has not played on the PGA Tour since it emerged from lockdown and will not make the trip to TPC Harding Park.

The 48-year-old's last top-10 finish on the US tour came in 2016 and he has missed the cut at five of the last six US PGA Championships.

The popular Irishman hopes to return to play in future editions of the major, with all past winners eligible for exemptions to compete.

Harrington said in a statement posted on Twitter: "After much deliberation, I have decided not to travel to next week's PGA Championship.

"As COVID-19 currently looks to be under control in Ireland, I am taking the prudent approach by following the guidelines and reducing the risk as much as possible by staying at home.

"I'm sure I'll be watching every shot on TV with great interest and hopefully I'll have many more years to play in the PGA Championship."

Brooks Koepka was pleased to see his hard work rewarded during the first round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The American made a dream start to his title defence in Memphis, matching a career-low with an eight-under 62 in the first round to hold a two-stroke lead.

Koepka, who had missed cuts in two of his previous three tournaments, said his performance was thanks to the work he had put in.

"It's all what's gone on behind the scenes," the four-time major champion told a news conference.

"I do feel comfortable at this place, I like it, but at the same time, it's the first time I feel like I know where my misses are, I know when the club's in the correct spot, I know when the putting stroke's nice.

"It's all just the work we've put in over the last three weeks of countless hours of beating balls and on the putting green."

Koepka has one top-10 finish in 10 starts this year, but the world number six was happy with his improvement on Thursday.

"I played good, I drove it well, putted well, chipped it well, did everything very solid, missed in the correct spots," he said.

"I never really felt like I was having to work too hard out there so that's a little different than it has been, but I guess that's why we put in all the work."

Brooks Koepka made a dream start to his title defence at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational after matching his career-low round on the PGA Tour.

Koepka carded an eight-under-par 62 for a two-stroke lead following the opening round of the World Golf Championships event in Memphis on Thursday.

The four-time major champion – who has missed two cuts in his past three outings heading to TPC Southwind – was almost flawless at the PGA and European Tour tournament.

Koepka, troubled by a knee injury that has led to just one top-10 finish in 10 tournaments this year, raced out of the blocks with four consecutive birdies before closing out the front nine with back-to-back gains after dropping the seventh.

The American star was bogey free after the turn, birdieing the 11th, 13th and 16th holes to top the leaderboard ahead of countrymen Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd.

Kang Sung-hoon is outright fourth on five under, a shot ahead of 2018 champion Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Chez Reavie and Max Homa, while the likes of Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are three under through 18 holes.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth endured a mixed round, posting a double bogey, two bogeys and six birdies for a two-under-par 68 – a score matched by players such as Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Xander Schauffele.

Dustin Johnson, the 2016 winner who withdrew from last week's 3M Open, signed for a first-round 69 to be a shot better off than world number one Jon Rahm.

Rahm dethroned Rory McIlroy as the world's top-ranked golfer after winning the Memorial Tournament earlier this month and the Spanish star opened his Memphis campaign with four bogeys and four birdies.

He performed a lot better than McIlroy, who carded a three-over-par 73 to leave himself with plenty of work to do heading into Friday's second round.

Adam Schenk earned a three-point lead after day one of the Barracuda Championship in Truckee, California.

At the only PGA Tour event that uses the Modified Stableford scoring system, players are encouraged to attack the course in an aggressive manner, and Schenk produced the round of the day.

An unblemished front nine – which began on the 10th hole – saw Schenk make five birdies on seven holes.

A pair of late birdies gave Schenk a score of 14 points for his first round, putting him three ahead of Robert Streb and Seamus Power.

Five more players are just a further point adrift heading into day two.

Brooks Koepka believes he will turn his form around despite still being troubled by a knee injury.

Koepka, the world number six, has missed two cuts in his past three events heading into the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The four-time major champion is confident he can recapture his best form, having recorded just one top-10 finish in 10 events this year.

"It's definitely been frustrating. It will test you mentally, but at the same time, I'm looking at it as a challenge and something where I know it will turn around eventually. It's going to turn around," Koepka told a news conference.

"You don't work that hard for nothing. Starting to see signs of it. Now it's just about going and doing it.

"Whether it be this week, next week, a month from now, two months from now, whatever it's going to be, it will pay off."

Koepka suffered a torn patella tendon in his knee last year and is still being bothered by the injury.

The American said he would finish the season before considering his options.

"The tear has to be worse to go under the knife, but we'll see how it goes," Koepka said.

"We'll see when my season ends and go get stem cell again most likely and figure it out from there."

The 2020 U.S. Open will be played with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced the move on Wednesday, with the PGA Tour season having restarted last month.

The USA has seen more than 4.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll exceeding 153,000.

"Following months of consultation and scenario planning with local and state health officials, we have jointly decided that hosting the U.S. Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved," USGA chief executive Mike Davis said.

"We will miss the excitement of the fans and what their presence brings to the championship.

"We look forward to welcoming them again to future U.S. Opens."

The U.S. Open is due to be held at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York starting on September 17.

Rory McIlroy believes playing the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is the perfect preparation for the US PGA Championship.

The world number two is competing at TPC Southwind starting Thursday, as players prepare for the first major of the year – the US PGA.

McIlroy, who is without a top-10 finish since the PGA Tour season restarted last month, feels playing in Memphis is the ideal preparation.

"I don't think I've ever went and played a PGA Championship site beforehand, and obviously I'm not going to do it this year, obviously here," the Northern Irishman told a news conference.

"It's nice. It sort of feels like it's back to the old days where we played Akron and then went straight to the PGA Championship. I always enjoyed those two weeks. I did well, I did well going that way so sort of reminds me back when we did that.

"I don't think I'm approaching it any differently. Obviously, it is going to be different. You're not going to have fans and atmosphere is not going to be what we're used to at a major championship, but it's a major championship venue.

"It's a great golf course, obviously a really strong field, and I don't think there's any better way to get prepared than to play here this week."

Fans are not permitted at PGA Tour events for the rest of the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

McIlroy said he was unsure when he would be comfortable with spectators being allowed back at tournaments.

"I guess when there's less of a chance of people getting sick," he said.

"And whether that's [that] they discover more with the virus or there's different treatments, whether that's a vaccine or other treatments. I don't know.

"Again, like being out here, I feel pretty safe. We get tested multiple times a week, and inside the bubble … obviously you can limit your exposure as much as you can. But yeah, it's hard.

"I don't know, I don't know. Whether it's a vaccination or whether it's something happens where there's a breakthrough and we know a little bit more about what's going on with the virus, but I probably can't give you a definitive answer about when I would be comfortable with crowds again."

Michael Thompson landed the second PGA Tour title of his career when he held his nerve on the final day of the 3M Open in Minnesota.

The 35-year-old, who in 2013 triumphed at the Honda Classic, endured a barren run following that breakthrough success but was a winner again on Sunday at TPC Twin Cities.

Birdies at the 16th and 18th holes took Thompson to 19 under for a two-shot victory over Adam Long, whose weekend charge was almost rewarded with trophy success.

Long made birdie at the last as he followed his 63 from Saturday with a 64 to reach 17 under, which at the time gave him a share of the lead as Thompson navigated his way through the back nine.

With the pressure on, Thompson made a birdie three at 16 and parred the next to go to the final hole armed with a one-shot lead.

His second shot over water to the green gave Thompson two putts for the title from around 15 feet, and he drained his first attempt to complete a round of 67, sealing a first win in 167 starts.

A teary Thompson said: "It's been a long time. I'm really sad my wife and kids aren't here to celebrate this with me. I can't wait to see them.

"This is so exciting. I played such good golf today. I stayed within myself, believed in myself, and I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Victory earns Thompson a ticket to the US PGA Championship and U.S. Open, which he said meant "the world" to him, as well as a guaranteed two more years on the PGA Tour.

The leaderboard was highly congested, with nine players tying for third on 16 under: Robby Shelton, Charles Howell III, Emiliano Grillo, Alex Noren, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Cameron Tringale, Richy Werenski and Charl Schwartzel.

Werenski had been the overnight co-leader with Thompson but could only shoot 70 on the final day, his worst score of the week.

Michael Thompson and Richy Werenski moved two strokes clear atop the leaderboard following the third round of the 3M Open.

Thompson and Werenski extended their joint lead after both golfers carded three-under-par 68s in Minnesota on Saturday.

The American pair shared a one-shot advantage heading into the penultimate round at TPC Twin Cities, where Thompson and Werenski remain the men to beat.

Thompson had four birdies and just one bogey on day three having earlier boasted a four-stroke cushion, while Werenski carded five birdies and a pair of bogeys to also end the round 15 under through 54 holes.

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (66) and American Tony Finau (69) are the nearest challengers – two shots adrift – ahead of Sunday's final round.

Max Homa climbed 19 positions into outright fifth at 12 under following his seven-under-par 64, while Cameron Tringale (63), Denny McCarthy (64), Alex Noren (66), Harris English (67), Ryan Moore (67), Nick Watney (68) and Cameron Davis (69) are all tied for sixth position.

Defending champion Matthew Wolff is five strokes behind leaders Thompson and Werenski after a difficult round.

After back-to-back rounds in the 60s, Wolff shot a one-under-par 70 to slide seven places into a share of 13th spot, alongside Charles Howell III (67), Emiliano Grillo (64), Adam Long (63), Taylor Gooch (72) and Zhang Xinjun (71).

Lee Westwood will not play in the US PGA Championship next month as he is concerned "America doesn't take coronavirus as seriously as the rest of the world".

The lifting of a two-week quarantine for players and caddies upon arrival in the United States in order to compete on the PGA Tour will not tempt Westwood to cross the Atlantic.

Westwood has the option of entering a bio-secure bubble for the first major of the year, which will be staged behind closed doors at Harding Park, San Francisco from August 6-9.

The former world number one says he does not feel comfortable about the prospect of travelling to the USA, where there have been over four million confirmed COVID-19 cases and well in excess of 100,000 deaths.

"I'm concerned that America doesn't take coronavirus as seriously as the rest of the world," said the Englishman.

He added: "I still don't feel comfortable and I don't feel it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours.

"I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on. I don't really want to get ill with it and I'm slightly asthmatic.

"There are too many what ifs. If you take all of them into consideration, there is something wrong."

Westwood was speaking at the British Masters at Close House Golf Club on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he was the tournament host of the first full European Tour event since March.

Italian Renato Paratore won the event, which was staged without spectators, by three shots on Saturday.

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