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American Holmes fires a 64 for early St. Jude lead

J.B. Holmes tore up the front nine at TPC Southwind on Friday en route to a 64 and a one-stroke lead over fellow American John Merrick early in the second round of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee.

Holmes, who shot a level-par 70 in the first round, birdied the second and third holes and ran off four straight birdies from the sixth to stand at six-under 134 at the midway mark of the tournament.

The 30-year-old, long-hitting Kentuckian has fashioned an extraordinary comeback from brain surgery last September, posting two top-10 finishes this season and tying for 13th at last week's Memorial.

Overnight co-leader Merrick added a 69 to his opening 66 for a 135 total on a better day for scoring following the windy conditions from Thursday's first round.

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and American Jeff Maggert, who was tied for the overnight lead, were among the day's late starters and near the top of the leaderboard.

Tied in the clubhouse for third place on four-under-par 136 were U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III (68), fellow-American Ken Duke (68) and South Korean Noh Seung-yul (69).

John Daly, playing through a sponsor's exemption at what was once his home course, stayed in the hunt with a one-under-par 69 for a 137 total, a figure shared by Americans Boo Weekley (67)and J.J. Killeen (69), Sweden's Daniel Chopra (65) and Australian Nick O'Hern (67).

(Reporting By Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)