MEMPHIS (REUTERS) – Brendon Todd used a red-hot putter to claim sole ownership of the lead at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis on Friday (July 31), sitting two strokes ahead of Rickie Fowler after the second round.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, his American compatriot Chez Reavie and South Korean An Byeong-hun finished the day four strokes off the lead.
World No. 51 Todd, who won two PGA Tour titles in consecutive starts last November, carded a bogey-free, five-under 65 at TPC Southwind for an 11-under 129 halfway total.
The 35-year-old American, who converted an impressive 50-foot birdie putt over a slope at the par-three 14th, walked off the course feeling better than ever heading into the weekend.
“In my whole life, this is definitely the most confident I’ve ever felt with my golf game. It’s probably the most versatile I’ve ever been ball-striking-wise,” said Todd.
“I still don’t hit it far, but I feel like I’m able to shape shots a little bit. And my short game’s solid, so it just kind of comes down to how the putting is.”
Fowler, who holed three back-to-back birdies on the front nine, shot a double-bogey on 11, before recovering with a birdie-birdie finish for a 67.
The 31-year-old has not finished in the top 10 since the Tour returned from its coronavirus hiatus, but told reporters that he feels he is “heading in the right direction”.
“My main goal is (to) go through some changes for the better. Sometimes you’ve got to take that step back to take two steps forward,” said Fowler.
“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, who led by two shots after the first round, started on the back nine and reached the turn at two under for the round but made double-bogey at the par-four second where his tee shot found a fairway bunker and then needed three putts from 57 feet.
The four-time Major winner, who struggled in his last three events, said his putter let him down in his round of one-over 71 but that he was not going to lose sleep with plenty of golf still to play.
“I felt like I did everything we were trying to do, just wasn’t working, wasn’t seeing the line,” said Koepka, who will defend his PGA Championship title next week.
“Even yesterday I said I didn’t feel quite comfortable over anything inside five feet and today it just felt kind of the same.
“I’ve got 36 holes to go, man, I ain’t worried.”
An, meanwhile, moved into contention with a second-round 65, reported PGATour.com. Chasing a first World Golf Championships and PGA Tour victory, the 28-year-old enjoyed a good day on the greens with six birdies against a lone bogey.
Countryman Kang Sung battled to a 69, which featured four birdies against three bogeys, to lie a further shot back in a share of sixth place.
Reavie shot a 67 and has just one bogey in 36 holes.