Jack Nicklaus joined the booth at the Memorial Tournament on Friday and listened to at least one player complain about the golf course he designed before laughing it off and saying that player (Jason Day) might be right about the hole he demurred. In other words, a very normal day on the PGA Tour.
Justin Suh leads by two at Muirfield Village after two rounds, but he’s surrounded by players he probably doesn’t want to be. Rory McIlroy bounced back, as did Patrick Cantlay, and Hideki Matsuyama shot the round of the day, Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler got in the mix, while Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele are all a bit further back.
In other words for Suh: Uh oh.
The Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year was awesome on Friday, though, tying for the second-best round of the day with a 6-under 66 that got him one clear of Matsuyama. We’ll take a closer look at his round, his lead and what could happen over the next 36.
1. Justin Suh (-8): Suh has been playing solid golf of late with top 10s at the Honda Classic and Players Championship, plus a good showing at the PGA a few weeks ago. There are two problems for him, though. The first is the group of players who have gathered behind him, and the other is that he’s done most of his damage on the greens at a clip that’s unsustainable. “I don’t think anyone is expecting to gain seven strokes [putting] off two days,” he said.
Still, he’s a good player with a tremendous pedigree who has the stuff to close out even the best in the world. He said he’s learned from his previous 36-hole leads, one of which came at the Honda Classic in March when he finished T5.
“I would say the pace is a little bit faster than a Thursday, Friday round,” said Suh. “Obviously, on the weekend you’re playing faster because it’s twosomes. But I think when you’re in the moment and you’re playing up in the leaderboard, things are moving faster. I think slowing it down, just kind of being aware of it, helps you just stay in the moment and play the shots that you need to play.
“As far as dealing with that, I think having a system with your caddie really helps,” he continued. “We have a pretty good system already, but I think just being aware of what we’re trying to accomplish on the golf course just helps.”
2. Hideki Matsuyama (-7)
T3. David Lipsky, Patrick Cantlay (-6)
T5. Rory McIlroy, Sepp Straka, Si Woo Kim, Patrick Rodgers, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm (-4)
Horses everywhere! Fowler and Rahm came in hot at the end and joined this group late in the afternoon. Now they’re both among the favorites to win the event (see below). Rahm especially is fascinating going into the final two days. He’s fourth in the field from tee to green and hasn’t putted it at all. Still, he has just four bogeys through two days and could take a fifth win this year into the U.S. Open at LACC in two weeks.
Rahm’s last three times at Memorial include: T10 (2022), WD – led after 54 holes (2021), Winner (2020). He’s going to be a problem.
Rory bounces back
Following a tough triple at the final hole of his first round 72, Rory McIlroy rebounded with a second-round 68 and now finds himself in a comfortable spot inside the top 10 going to the weekend.
“I felt good about everything that I did yesterday,” said McIlroy. “I got one bad break on 18 with that ball finishing on the bank of the bunker. So I really feel like I’m one shot out of leading this golf tournament. That rolls down it into the bunker, hopefully able to hit it on the green and make a 4, and instead of standing here at 4 under, I would be at 7 under and feeling really good about everything.”
Regardless, McIlroy said he feels like his swing is coming around. Interestingly, he’s struck the ball better form January 1 to this week than he did in the same timeframe a year ago. And while numbers aren’t everything, the story this week has been more that he’s feeling it a bit on the greens at Muirfield Village. McIlroy has never won the Memorial, but he does have five top-15 finishes.
Brandt Snedeker makes cut
That’s not a big deal, right? Well, not normally, but Snedeker has made just one cut since the Canadian Open last year — almost exactly 12 months ago. He had a rare surgery in December to rebuild his sternum and somehow shot even par over the first 36 holes at one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour. Golf is completely ridiculous.
“It’s been awhile [since I felt this jittery],” said Snedeker. “I always feel that way the first tournament of the year after having like December off. I always feel that way in Hawaii. But definitely more so this week, especially with what this golf course can do to you if you’re not playing well. So I’m shocked at how good my body feels, shocked at how I feel, how excited I am for the weekend. To be honest with you, I thought it was going to be kind of a grind the first couple weeks.
“But so far so good. So fingers crossed,” he continued. “Hopefully this is kind of the new bar for me of how I should feel after playing golf and if it is, I’m excited about the next six, seven years out here.”
Incredibly, Snedeker also beat world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler — who has 10 top-four finishes in his last 18 starts and won at the Players and Phoenix earlier this year — by two. Scheffler made one putt longer than 6 feet over the first two days of the tournament.
Billy Horschel’s fight
Video of an emotional Horschel following a Round 1 of 84 made its way around Twitter on Thursday, but Horschel impressively gutted out a 72 in the second round. It’s nothing even close to enough for last year’s winner to make the cut, but it’s so mentally impressive at a place that can completely demoralize you.
2023 Memorial Tournament updated odds, picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Patrick Cantlay: +330
- Hideki Matsuyama: +450
- Jon Rahm: 6-1
- Rory McIlroy: 8-1
- Justin Suh: +850
Rahm is the play here for me. If you’re intrigued by big names that are a bit longer, Fowler (18-1), Spieth (28-1) and Hovland (35-1) are all within six and all playing mostly great golf. Still, it’s hard to see this trophy slipping past this top five. The best odds of the group for where he is on the leaderboard belong to Rahm, who has effectively lost to nine golfers the last three times he’s played this event.