Furyk, ex-Tiger top packed leaderboard at Memorial

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DUBLIN, Ohio — One last birdie for Jim Furyk put him one more stroke under par, which he found more gratifying than being in a share of the lead with Jonathan Byrd on Friday at the Memorial.

A blue sky and warm sun translated into fast greens at Muirfield Village, leading to a crammed leaderboard going into a weekend loaded with possibilities.

Tiger Woods had his worst score in nearly two years – a 2-over 74 – and still was only six shots behind.

Furyk had two bogeys from the bunker on the back nine, but finished with an 8-iron that stopped on the top shelf about eight feet away for birdie on the 18th that gave him a 2-under 70.

He hasn’t been atop the leaderboard this deep into a tournament since winning the Canadian Open in 2007, his last PGA Tour victory.

Byrd, a former Clemson star, had a bogey-free 68 in the

morning, also making a birdie on the 18th. They were at 7-under 137.

Asked how he felt about being tied for the lead, Furyk replied, “I’d rather be as many under par as possible.”

“I just want to go out there and play one more solid round tomorrow and hopefully sit in the same spot, and put myself in good position for Sunday’s round,” said Furyk, the 2002 Memorial winner. “I’ll just be jockeying for position and trying to play another good round.”

And he’ll have plenty of company.

Mike Weir (69) and Mark Wilson (70) were another shot back at 6-under 138. The top 16 players were separated by a mere three shots going into the weekend.

Augusta native Charles Howell followed up his 75 in the first round with 77 and missed the cut by four shots.

Woods was at 1-under 143. That was only six shots from the lead with 36 holes to play, although he had 23 players ahead of him, a list that includes Ernie Els (70), Stewart Cink (72) and Davis Love III (68) at 4-under 140.

A victory by Love would allow him to skip 36 holes of U.S. Open qualifying Monday.

Also at 140 was Luke Donald, who opened with 64 and a three-shot lead that vanished with 40 on his opening nine. He wound up a dozen shots worse with 76, although he was very much in contention.

The question was whether the leading score would continue to dwindle as the greens got even faster. Woods said he ran into the course superintendent before teeing off in the morning and was told the greens were running at 14 on the Stimpmeter. “That’s not slow,” he said.

Byrd failed to make birdie on any of the par 5s, but the disappointment was soothed by keeping bogeys off his card. He realized the course was getting tougher, and he welcomed a chance to show his mettle on the weekend.

“We’re halfway home on this golf tournament. There’s a lot left,” Byrd said.


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