Germany’s Martin Kaymer held his ground atop the leaderboard Saturday at Muirfield Village Golf Club, firing a 6-under-par 66 to grab a two-shot lead over Australia’s Adam Scott at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
Kaymer, who started the day as one of three co-leaders, carded a bogey-free round that included two birdies on the front at Nos. 3 and 9 and four more on the back, at Nos. 11, 13, 15 and 16. He stands at 15 under, and says being in position to strike for the trophy is all about patience.
“I think I will have the same attitude tomorrow: Stay in control of the golf ball, hit fairways, hit greens, use the chances that will appear, and see what happens,” Kaymer told NBC Sports following his round.
It’s been five years since the two-time major winner hoisted a PGA Tour trophy — at the 2014 U.S. Open — and more than two years since he posted a top-10 finish in the U.S., tying for fourth at the Honda Classic in February 2017. He credits a concentrated effort on his short game as one reason for his recent resurgent performance as well as a slim social media diet.
“It’s just a matter of energy. It just takes a lot of energy to read that stuff — even if it’s not about yourself,” he explained. “You think about other people and then you compare yourself … and I just don’t like that way of thinking. I just wanted more energy and I didn’t really know what the reason was, and I think social media and listening to the broadcasting and stuff can take all the energy, and for me it’s just more distracting than helping.”
It’s been more than three years since 14-time PGA Tour winner Scott visited the winner’s circle, last winning back-to-back tournaments in early 2016 when he won the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The 38-year-old enjoyed a similar trip as Kaymer around Muirfield on Saturday, combating a bogey at 9 with seven birdies on his card, including four the on the back, highlighted by a birdie at 18. He stands at 13 under.
“I felt OK the first two days and managed my mistakes today and actually felt better, so that a positive thing going into the weekend,” Scott told NBC following his round.
“When you hit a lot of greens, it’s hard to gain strokes on the field because you’re not putting from three feet on every hole — I wish, but it doesn’t happen. Look, I’d almost take that same round tomorrow with (my) below-average putting and see how my chances tack up, but I’m going to need a really great round tomorrow.”
Roaring into contention was Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who shot the low round of the day — an 8-under 64 — to leapfrog into a tie for third place with Patrick Cantlay (68) and Jordan Spieth (69). Matsuyama unleashed eight birdies during his round, including a string of four in five holes on the front. His four more on the back was punctuated with a chip-in for birdie at 18.
“It was a difficult shot but I had a good lie,” Matsuyama told NBC through an interpreter. “I was able to get it out of there and what a feeling to have it go in.”
Matsuyama, a five-time PGA winner, captured his first Tour win at the Memorial in 2014 and the 27-year-old said he will draw on those memories going into Sunday.
“My best memory of that year was walking off the 18th green and seeing Mr. (Jack) Nicklaus, receiving the champions trophy from him, and to be able to do it tomorrow would be dream come true,” he said.
Matsuyama last win came at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2017, one of three victories during the 2016-17 campaign. So far this season, he has three top-10 finishes including a tie for eighth at The Players Championship in March.
Tiger Woods shot his third straight round in the 70s on Saturday, posting a 2-under 70. He stands tied for 25th at 4 under.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)