Carl Pettersson takes narrow advantage
Carl Pettersson is running out of ways to get into the U.S. Open.
Although one simple solution still remains.
"Maybe winning here, that might help," Pettersson said Friday after shooting a 5-under 67 for a one-shot lead over Sean O'Hair and Adam Scott in the Memorial.
Pettersson had to wait one day to see if his lead would hold up. With a six-hour rain delay Friday, 70 players had to return to the course Saturday morning to complete the second round. Skies were sunny, although Muirfield Village remained difficult because of thick, wet rough that became even more punishing than the bunkers.
Scott turned in the best round of the tournament on Saturday, riding five straight birdies around the turn and posting a 6-under 66. O'Hair, who was at 8 under through six holes when play was suspended Friday, returned to make bogey and continued to match birdies with bogeys before settling for a 70.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson was going south Friday evening, but turned it around quickly with four birdies Saturday morning to shoot 70, leaving him three shots behind. This is the first of three straight starts for Mickelson through the U.S. Open, where he will try to win his third straight major.
Pettersson has nine birdies and one bogey in his two rounds to stand at 8-under 136. He is No. 51 in the latest world golf rankings, one hundredth of a point out of an automatic exemption into the U.S. Open in two weeks at Winged Foot. But the final exemption is for any player who wins twice on the PGA Tour over the last year, and Pettersson won in Tampa Bay last October.
Should he win the Memorial, he would not have to go through 36 grueling holes of sectional qualifying on Monday.
"So that would be nice," the Swede said.
He still had two rounds left, and about the only thing worth celebrating Friday was getting done.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore and Justin Rose left Muirfield Village on Friday thinking they had been disqualified for leaving the course after 11 holes before the horn sounded to officially stop play because of darkness. They returned at 6:30 a.m. Saturday to plead their case and were allowed back into the tournament.
Moore and Rose said their walking scorer told them play had been suspended and there would be no horn.
"We weighed all the evidence," PGA Tour tournament director Slugger White said. "They got bad information, and they asked what they felt were the right questions. Basically, they're the luckiest two guys on the planet right now."
Moore wound up with another 71 and was at 2-under 142, while Rose was at 146.
The cut was at 4-over 148, which wasn't enough to save Fred Couples. He shot an 80, taking a double bogey on the final hole, and missed the cut by one shot.
Relief was the abiding emotion for those fortunate enough to get a good night's rest before returning to the course for Saturday's third round.
"I'm happy going into the weekend at 6 under," said Steve Flesch, who shot 72 and was in the large group at 6-under 138 that included Tim Clark, Zach Johnson, Brandt Jobe and Dallas winner Brett Wetterich. "But I'm more happy that I'm finished."
"It was hard out there but I still think patience is the key thing," said Johnson, winner of the BellSouth two years ago. "You hit in the fairway and you're bound to have casual water. That's frustrating. But at the same time, everybody's playing out of it."
A day after almost every player was griping about the furrowed bunkers and gap-toothed rakes at Muirfield Village, they were forced to wait before battling an extremely long and wet course.
"Twelve hours for 18 holes," Ernie Els said after shooting a 70 that left him at even par. "That must be a world record."
Only three times in the last decade has the Memorial avoided a year without at least one round running over because of weather.
Chris Couch and Steve Lowery didn't bother coming back after play resumed late in the afternoon Friday. John Daly shot an 80 on Thursday and then failed to show up for a late tee time.