Steve Stricker’s hole-in-one during the second round at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, sent shock waves throughout the course, and up and down the leaderboard.
Stricker improved on his first-round score of 68 by posting a 67 on Friday, and ascended to the top of the Memorial Tournament leaderboard thanks to a rare ace on the par-3, 186-yard eighth hole.
“You don’t expect to make a one,” Stricker said. “That (hole) always provided me with trouble over the years, and it’s just a tough par-3.”
Despite his past difficulties with Muirfield’s eighth hole, Stricker said his tee shot came off surprisingly well.
“I was surprised that it came off good because I haven’t hit some good shots there in years prior,” Stricker said. “I didn’t see how it went in, but it looked like it went in fairly nice, like a putt.”
For those who weren’t within earshot of cheers that went up in support of Stricker’s ace, souvenir radio headsets alerted Muirfield patrons to the hole-in-one. Tournament officials then were seen updating magnetic scoreboards throughout the course — within moments, Stricker’s name sat atop all others.
Luke Donald, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, birdied the 17th and 18th holes to move to 5-under-par after Friday’s second round. Donald said he thought he was one shot behind four players — Ricky Barnes, Rod Pampling, Jonathan Byrd and Rory McIlroy — who had previously been tied for first place before Stricker’s hole-in-one.
Donald was first alerted to the hole-in-one by a member of the media.
“That (hole-in-one) will help,” Donald said. “(Stricker) is a great player, and he’ll be tough to catch. I’ll give it my best shot.”
Stricker, who teed off from the 10th hole at 12:43 p.m. to begin his round, birdied the ninth hole to close out the round and move to 9-under-par.
Despite his 3-stroke lead ahead of Barnes, Pampling, Byrd and McIlroy, Stricker said “there’s a long way to go” in the Memorial.
“Obviously, I’m happy to be where I’m at,” Stricker said. “Heading into the weekend, things change. Guys get more aggressive. So, you just kind of got to be patient and hang in there and keep doing the things you know how to do.”
Third-round play will commence at 8:10 a.m. Saturday, and Stricker and Barnes will tee off at 1:40 p.m. as the Memorial’s final pairing.