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Hole-in-one propels Steve Stricker to 2-day lead in Memorial Tournament

Two days into the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, veteran PGA Tour golfer Steve Stricker finds himself atop the leaderboard at 9-under-par.

“Obviously, I’m happy to be where I’m at,” Stricker said, “but you’ve just got to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing and try to do the same things, play to my strengths.”

Stricker, who started on the back nine, capped off his round with a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, and a birdie on the ninth to propel him three shots ahead of his closest competition.

“I made the turn 1-over for the round and shot 30 on the second nine,” Stricker said, “so things got going in the right direction.”

Four players find themselves three shots off the lead heading into the weekend. One of those four, Rory McIlroy, shot an even-par 72 Friday. McIlroy did not improve on his first-round 66, but is still in contention.

“I felt as if I played good enough to shoot something in the 60s, but I just made too many mistakes out there,” McIlroy said. “I made two bogeys on the front nine from the middle of the fairway with a 9-iron and a sand wedge in my hand. You just can’t do that sort of stuff.”

Ricky Barnes, Rod Pampling and Jonathan Byrd also find themselves at 6-under-par.

One group that seemed to have the biggest crowd all day was the Phil “Lefty” Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Luke Donald trio.

Donald, the No. 1 golfer in the world, finished his Friday round birdie-birdie, putting himself in a position for a late tee time. Donald is now tied for sixth, just four shots off the lead and will be a factor entering the weekend.

“I played a lot of solid golf today,” Donald said. “Some careless mistakes out there, mostly short game mistakes. … A lot of positives though, and I’m still in a great place for the weekend.”

Mickelson finished his day at 2-under-par, and played a nearly flawless round. Lefty recorded three birdies and one bogey Friday, putting him seven shots away from Stricker.

“There’s some good chances out there,” Mickelson said. “If I can get a good round tomorrow, I hopefully will get in the mix for Sunday, which is the goal.”

Seventy-three players made the cut for the Memorial’s final two rounds.

Some big names missed the cut, including Stuart Appleby, Trevor Immelman, Martin Laird, Steve Marino, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Lucas Glover, Jhonattan Vegas and Justin Rose.

Rose, the defending champion, will not be playing over the weekend at the Memorial this year. Rose shot a 3-over 75 Friday to finish 2-over-par for the first two rounds. The cut was 1-over-par.

Rose finished the 18th, knew his weekend was over and, without hesitation, handed his putter to a child in the gallery.

Play begins at 8:10 a.m. Saturday, and Stricker will tee off with Barnes at 1:40 p.m.

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