Jeff Maggert and John Merrick are at the top, but 15 other golfers are within two shots of the lead.
After hitting onto the green, John Merrick would roll in a birdie putt on No. 13 on Thursday.
EDISON, N.J. -- Getting there may be a challenge with Hurricane Irene rumbling up the East Coast.
But eight players punched their ticket to TPC Boston on Saturday at The Barclays when they moved into the top 100 in the FedExCup standings.
Camilo Villegas made the biggest move -- jumping 58 spots to 51st when he tied for sixth at Plainfield Country Club. Chris Stroud moved up 31 spots, Ian Poulter 36, Padraig Harrington 44, Bill Lunde 18, William McGirt 29, John Merrick 6 and Ernie Els 19 to No. 99.
Poulter and McGirt had two of the biggest challenges in the final round. The colorful Brit birdied four of his last five holes on Saturday to seal the deal while McGirt, who was the last man to make the field for the first event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, clocked in at No. 101 until he made a birdie on the 17th hole.
Falling out of the top 100 were Bryce Molder, Hunter Haas, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Nick o'Hern, Matt Bettencourt, Tim Herron and Michael Bradley. Of that group only Molder made the cut and his closing 70 and tie for 65th simply wasn't enough.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- What a difference a year makes.
In 2010, 77 players completed four rounds at The Greenbrier Classic and 46 of those shot four rounds in the 60s -- or in Stuart Appleby's case, three in the 60s and one 59.
Only four players have that opportunity on Sunday, though. They are Anthony Kim, Webb Simpson, Chris Couch and John Merrick.
Looks like the restoration of the Old White TPC has accomplished its mission to make the C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor creation more challenging.
The leaders are about an hour away from starting their third rounds at the John Deere Classic. They could find a more difficult TPC Deere Run for moving day.
Among the early players there are no eye-popping scores or surges up the leaderboard. Michael Putnam and John Merrick each shot 67, while Will MacKenzie has a 5-under round going with five holes remaining. He’s up to 10 under for the tournament. Good stuff but nothing quite like Chez Reavie’s Friday 62 or the several 64s shot so far this week.
Asked yesterday to assess the greens, Steve Marino said they are a touch firmer and, consequently, more difficult. Saturday’s dry conditions with temperatures in the upper 80s should continue that trend.
“It’s making it play just a little bit more difficult,” Marino said Friday after his 66. “I mean, they’re not super-firm by any stretch, but you know, I’ve definitely played softer greens. I think they’re about perfect for scoring.”
Whether that’s a super-low score like we’ve seen in previous years of the John Deere Classic remains to be seen.
We’re currently two-thirds of the way through the 2011 PGA TOUR Regular Season, as the FedEx St. Jude Classic marks the final 11-week stretch of 33 weeks toward the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Leader Robert Karlsson sits 98th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-10 in his first 10 starts of the season. That will obviously change today and could in a big way -- Karlsson could move as high as 27th with a victory this week.
Harrison Frazar, meanwhile, entered the week 178th in the FedExCup standings after coming off his first top-15 finish of the season at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he tied for 14th.
Frazar could potentially crack the top 70 in the standings with a win this week. He needs to finish solo fourth or better to move inside the top 125 in the standings.
Currently 145th in the standings, John Merrick could jump as
high as 32nd with a win. Merrick will likely need
to finish solo 14th to move inside the top 125.
Retief Goosen is 147th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-25 finish this season, but he too could make a big leap. Last year, Goosen accumulated 464 points in the final 11 weeks of the season, which included three top-10 finishes. Right now, he’s projected to move to 94th in the standings.
John Merrick, Cameron Tringale and Retief Goosen are among those making a move on moving day in Memphis, where they’re 3 under, 3 under and 4 under, respectively.
The bad news for them is that Robert Karlsson is also playing well, at 2 under through his first two holes and leading by three over Merrick. Tringale and Goosen, meanwhile, are seven shots back and among a cluster of players tied for fifth.
On the PGA TOUR in 2011, the second-round leader has gone on to win just five times in 23 stroke-play events on the season. Of course the last of those was just last week with Steve Stricker winning at Muirfield Village. And since the tournament moved to TPC Southwind in 1989, the second-round leader of the FedEx St. Jude Classic has gone on to win eight times, including in each of the last two years.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
John Merrick’s playing opportunities this season have been limited after finishing 2010 140th on the money list -- meaning he has full status on the Nationwide Tour and only partial status on the PGA TOUR.
As a result Merrick is making just his ninth start of the year on TOUR this week in Memphis, where he opened with a 4-under 66 to sit near the lead.
Given that Merrick doesn’t necessarily know what tournaments he’ll get in given his status, he has to take advantage of opportunities when he can.
“The weeks off that I've had, you need to get prepared to play because you're not out week after week after week playing,” he said. “You're at home. Back out. You're at home. You really need to be ready to play. That's one of my goals, to be ready to play when my chances came.”
They certainly came Thursday when he hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 greens in regulation on his way to five birdies -- including four in a five-hole stretch at one point -- and just one bogey.
“I felt like it's been close for a long time,” the 29-year-old Merrick said. “Just a little bit more patient, little bit more confidence, and, you know, see what happens.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that Merrick was on his game. In 2009 he finished in the top 10 at the Masters and the PGA Championship. A year earlier, he tied for sixth at the U.S. Open.
He wasn’t able to build on that major success, however, and in 2010 had just one top-10 the entire season.
So what has the former UCLA standout been doing to prepare for his now an on-again, off-again schedule?
”Working with my coach, fine-tuning,” he said. “We're out here, always fine-tuning, and, you know, stroke here or there can go a long way.”
Especially in Merrick’s circumstances.