John Merrick gave himself a little pep talk coming
into the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Apparently it was pretty good.
Merrick, who tied for 11th here last year, shot a 4-under 66 to
grab a share of the first-round lead with Jeff Maggert at TPC
Southwind. "Kind of was trying to think about that last year, that
decent finish coming into this week, and kind of telling myself,
you know, I played good here, I can do it again," Merrick said.
Merrick used some clutch putting and solid ball-striking to rise to
the top. He made birdie putts of 9, 6, 7, 18 and 5 feet. "I hit a
couple loose drives, I think on 7 and then on 18," Merrick said.
"Other than that I, kind of kept it in play, kept it in the
fairways. That's kind of the only way you're going to score out
here with the greens being so firm and how windy it is." Merrick's
only hiccup came on the 18th, when he hit his tee shot in the
hazard. He chipped up to the green from 30 yards away and saved
bogey. "Had a loose shot there on 18, but, you know, you're going
-- can't hit every shot perfect out there," he said. "So I was
really happy with today." The 66 marked Merrick's lowest first
round on the PGA TOUR since he carded the same number at last
year's St. Jude. Merrick has made seven of 15 cuts this season. His
best finish is tied for 33rd at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Click here to replay Merrick's round.