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DUBLIN, Ohio – Five holes into the second round of the Memorial, Rory McIlroy had three birdies and Jordan Spieth had two bogeys. They were going opposition directions and thinking about the same destination.
The idea was at least get close enough to Matt Kuchar and Brendan Steele and have a reasonable chance.
"We're teeing off, and the leaders are 11 shots ahead of me," McIlroy said. "So at least I made a little ground up on them."
Steele had a 5-under 67 and Kuchar had another 66, both Friday morning, to reach 12-under 132.
McIlroy was 6 under through 11 holes and cooled off over the rest of the back nine, playing the last seven holes in even par for a 66 that ordinarily would leave him please, and this time left him slightly disappointed. He was still five shots behind.
Spieth slipped two shots below the projected cut line and never panicked. He played the last 12 holes in 6 under for a 68 and was six shots behind. He was slightly optimistic considering his start.
"Six birdies in 12 holes, that's a nice ratio out here," Spieth said.
They still have a long way to go, maybe not in number of strokes but in number of players going into Saturday:
THE DRUMMING: Steele was coming off a two-week break going into the Memorial, so he decided to try to get his game into shape by playing a few matches with Phil Mickelson in San Diego. If anything, it sounds like it made his wallet lighter.
"He just drummed me around for a couple of days," Steele said.
The scores were 2 and 1 on the first day, 5 and 4 on the second. But it was the second day, when Mickelson was 10 under, that made Steele feel so inferior. The good news? He went to work on his game, and it paid off. He has a share of the lead. Mickelson is five shots behind.
Mickelson gets credit for a tip.
"I think it's hard in an off week to find out where your game is at unless you play against some good competition," Mickelson said. "It identified the area that he needed to work on. He called up Rick, he came out and worked on it, and now here's the result. That was kind of the benefit."
ON A ROLL: Matt Kuchar, who won the Memorial in 2013, is 0-for-53 on the PGA Tour since he won at Hilton Head two years ago.
He is playing like that might be about to change.
Dating to a 68 he shot in the final round of The Players Championship, he has posted scores in the 60s in 10 of his last 11 rounds.
"The tough thing and the great thing about golf is there's so many facets of the game, so many pieces, that need to come together for you to play well," he said. "It feels like everything's coming along on good form right now."
CHASING: Emiliano Grillo is making a solid comeback at the Memorial considering how his week started.
The young Argentine, who won his first PGA Tour event as a member at the start of the season, showed up at the course Jack Nicklaus built and immediately ordered an Arnold Palmer. He tweeted out his mistake by calling it the first bogey of the week.
Then he made bogey on his first hole of the tournament. Grillo also has made 14 birdies, and he joins Gary Woodland at one shot behind.
MAY DAY: As well as he's been playing, Jason Day can look human.
He lost his swing overnight, never really found it, and relied on his sharp short game to at least squeeze out a 71. That put Day at 7 under, just five shots behind.
"If I didn't have a short game, I probably would have shot high 70s," he said.
He does. And he didn't.
THE CUT: Two days has produced the kind of scoring never seen at Muirfield Village. The average score for the opening round was 70.683, a tournament record. The average score for the second round was 70.913, a tournament record.
The leading score — same as last year.
The difference was the cut, which came at 2-under 142. That beat the record by one shot set last year. And it eliminated Rickie Fowler, who went 75-69 and missed the cut for the third time in his last five starts. That's not how the No. 5 player in the world wants to head into the U.S. Open.