Cameron Smith requires only 18 putts in his second-round 62 at TPC Southwind; Australian shares second place with Abraham Ancer as Harris English retains lead with Ian Poulter still well-placed; watch the third round live on Sky Sports Golf from 5.30pm on Saturday
Last Updated: 06/08/21 10:42pm
Cameron Smith just missed out on a new PGA Tour putting record as he stormed into contention in the second round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
The 27-year-old Australian required only a record-equalling low of 18 putts in 18 holes as he navigated his way around TPC Southwind in Memphis in eight-under 62.
That lifted Smith into a share of second place on 11 under with Abraham Ancer as Harris English remained two clear at the top of the leaderboard following a five-under 65.
Smith, who tapped in from five feet to birdie the first, holed out from a greenside bunker to eagle the third and then salvaged par with a 22-foot chip from off the green at the fourth.
He nailed a 30-foot putt to birdie the fifth and a close approach set up another gain at the sixth before three pars saw him turn in 30, requiring only a record-equalling seven putts on the front nine.
Smith’s putter was not quite as hot on the back nine, but further birdies followed at the 12th, 14th and 16th and he was denied a new record of 17 putts in a round when he had to tap in after failing to hole from the fringe at the 17th, before his 22-footer for birdie curled left at the 18th.
“It’s a pretty cool little title I guess to have next to your name,” said Smith. “I was actually hitting really nice golf shots as well that ended up just going off the green and made a few of them, and had a chip‑in there for par on four, which kept the round going. I was seeing the putts really good today.
“It’s always nice, whether it’s on the green or not, to hole those putts of length for par and kind of keep the momentum going.
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“The greens are so good around here, if you get the ball started on line and you’ve hit a good putt, most of the time they’re going in. Yeah, really just a good day on the greens, I guess. “
Ancer matched Smith’s 62 with eight birdies in his 13th bogey-free round of the season, which also equalled a PGA Tour record and provided the Mexican with the lowest round of his career so far.
“That’s always my goal, to be bogey‑free when I tee it up,” he said. “Makes me kind of simplify every hole and just get me hitting greens is the biggest goal and then from there I just focus obviously on my putting.
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“Happy that I got a round like that under my belt here. This is a very demanding golf course off the tee and also with iron play. I know it wasn’t playing as tough as it could be just because it was a little softer and not very windy, but still you have to hit your spots, for sure.”
English had carded a 62 on Thursday to set the early pace and he maintained his momentum to move to 13 under with a 65 which contained four birdies and an eagle at the par-five third where he hit his second shot to five feet, after bogeying the previous hole.
“Everything is clicking right now so I feel like my strategy’s been working off the tee,” he said. “You’ve got to keep the gas pedal down. The scores are pretty low right now and you can’t let up.”
Ian Poulter continued his challenge and his late push for a Ryder Cup place with a four-under 66 to share fourth place on 10 under with American duo Sam Burns (64) and Scottie Scheffler (65), with Louis Oosthuizen (64) and Bryson DeChambeau (66) just behind on nine under.
Rory McIlroy produced an improved performance with a 66 after his opening 72, confidence-boosting birdies at the 16th and 18th taking him into a tie for 38th place on two under.
Watch the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues with Featured Groups on Saturday from 2pm via the red button, before switching to Sky Sports Golf from 5.30pm.
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