Friday 22 September 2017

Dufner sets a hot pace at Memorial

Ireland's Padraig Harrington
Ireland's Padraig Harrington

William S Callahan

Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington were left trailing in the wake of tournament leader Jason Dufner at the Memorial Tournament - but they were not the only competitors who saw the American metaphorically disappearing into the distance.

Lowry shot 68 and Harrington carded 71 in round two at Muirfield Village to enter the weekend on four-under par, and two-under par respectively.

The Irishmen could only doff their caps to Dufner who has made himself the man to beat after a second successive 65 left him on 14-under par.

Dufner, 40, has won just four times on Tour, but he is a Major champion courtesy of the US PGA crown he earned in 2013.

Yesterday he completed his opening 36 holes with just one bogey on the card, and if he maintains his remorseless form, he can make Jack Nicklaus' tournament victory number five on his golfing CV.

His only blemish so far was a bogey on the par-four 18th in the first round, but the Ohio native claimed his revenge by sinking his second shot for eagle on that hole yesterday.

Five birdies, no bogeys, and that eagle threw down the gauntlet to the afternoon wave of players, but at the time he finished, Dufner led the field by eight shots. By the end of the day, his nearest challenger was Daniel Summerhays, who was third in the US PGA championship last year and yesterday shot a 69 to lie five shots off Dufner.

Rickie Fowler hit 66 to reach eight-under, while a significant cohort, including Jordan Spieth, David Lingmerth and Justin Thomas, all tournament winners this season, also took up the chase.

Reflect

Meanwhile, Lowry and Harrington had time to relax, reflect and gear themselves up for what will hopefully be their 'moving day' in round three.

Lowry was going well for most of the round, and at five-under par after nine holes, he looked set to do damage on the inward half.

Unfortunately for the Offaly native, his momentum slowed. Four pars were followed by bogey, birdie, bogey on holes 14 through 16, and he closed with pars on 17 and 18 for 68. Harrington had only two pars on his front nine of 35.

The positives were his four birdies, but three bogeys took the steam out of that charge. On his back nine, the Dubliner balanced a birdie two on the 12th with a bogey five at 18, and got home in 36 for his 71.

Paul Dunne, who will join Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy at the US Open if the latter is fit, made an early exit at the European Tour's Nordea Masters at Barseback in Sweden.

Dunne's 78, 71, for three-over meant a missed cut by two shots. Former Irish Open champion Jamie Donaldson shot 69 for eight-under and a two-shot lead ahead of Italy's Renato Paratore.

On the Challenge Tour, Kevin Phelan, 169th in the Road to Oman order of merit, and at 1,352 in the World rankings, filed a 64 in the Swiss Challenge in Lucerne. Phelan was joint second with American Julian Suri on ten-under, a shot behind leader Lee Craig of Scotland.

Nordea Masters

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Memorial Tournament

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