WASHINGTON (AFP) – Defending champion Jon Rahm pulled into a tie with clubhouse leader Patrick Cantlay as darkness halted play on Friday in the weather-hit United States (US) PGA Tour Memorial tournament.
Spain’s Rahm, the world number three who won the tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, last June, had six birdies and one bogey through 13 holes to reach eight-under before play was suspended.
Rahm launched a run of four straight birdies with a 21-footer at the par-three fourth. He blasted out of a greenside bunker to nine feet to birdie the fifth and rolled in a 15-footer at the sixth.
He reached the par-five seventh in two and two-putted from 53 feet. He answered a bogey at the 10th with birdies at 11 and 13.
Cantlay, whose three US PGA Tour titles include the 2019 Memorial, had six birdies in his five-under 67 and was in the clubhouse on eight-under 136.
They were two strokes in front of Scottie Scheffler, who carded a one-under 71 for a 36-hole total of 138.
Cantlay played 33 holes on Friday after the tournament was thrown off schedule by thunderstorms on Thursday.
“I think you have to be really patient and I think you have to be aware of not falling asleep out there,” said Cantlay, who had a 4.30am wake-up call to come out and complete a first-round 69.
“We’re out there for such a long time today that you could fall asleep at the wheel a little bit. So being cognisant of that and checking in with yourself, are you as focussed as you can be, when you need to be, I think is key.”
Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz was in the clubhouse on five-under 139 after a second-round 68. Americans Max Homa, Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler were all five-under on the back nine when darkness fell.
Collin Morikawa, who was clinging to a one-stroke lead when the second round began, was one adrift after two birdies and a bogey through 10 holes, but he was in the water off the tee on the way to a triple bogey six at the par-three 12th that put him four adrift.
Despite his fatigue, Cantlay finished strong, nabbing birdies at his final three holes, the seventh, eighth and ninth.
He had birdied his second hole of the second round, the 11th, but gave a stroke back when he was unable to get up and down form a greenside bunker at the 12th.
He rolled in a 17-footer for birdie at 15, and drained a 15-footer for birdie at 16 before closing with birdie putts of seven, 11 and six feet.
“It was a pleasant surprise to birdie the last three,” said Cantlay, adding that he wasn’t bothered by the taunting chants directed at playing partner Bryson DeChambeau.
DeChambeau, involved in a something of a social media storm last week when video was posted of US rival Brooks Koepka rolling his eyes as DeChambeau walked behind him as he was being interviewed.
Chants of “Let’s go Brooksie” followed DeChambeau around the course, although he said it wasn’t the taunts but the tough conditions at Muirfield that posed a problem during a second-round 72 that left him seven adrift.
“It was flattering,” DeChambeau said. “They can keep calling me that all day if they want to, I’ve got no issue with it. Most people they think it’s a distraction, but I grew up learning how to deal with that stuff.”