2022 Memorial Tournament leaderboard: Cameron Smith commands solo lead after Round 2 as Rory McIlroy lurks


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A fantastic leaderboard has taken shape heading into the weekend of the 2022 Memorial Tournament. All vying for the coveted handshake with Jack Nicklaus off the green of the 72nd hole, Cameron Smith commands the lead at the halfway point. Following up his opening round of 5-under 67 with a performance of 3-under 69, the Australian looks primed to continue his breakout season and capture his third victory of the year.

“I think my game’s in a good spot. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be [at the top of the leaderboard],” said Smith. “I’m playing some of the best golf of my life, and I feel I’m getting more consistent with the longer stuff. So [I am] just looking forward to everything coming up.”

With the U.S. Open taking place in two weeks, Smith is implying his desire to add a major championship title to his trophy case, but he better not look too far ahead as a strong chasing pack has developed at Muirfield Village. Rookies Cameron Young and Davis Riley, young stars Joaquin Niemann and Sungjae Im, and major champions Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy are all within four strokes of Smith’s lead. It should make for an exciting weekend of golf in Dublin, Ohio.

The leader

1. Cameron Smith (-8): To say Smith’s history at Muirfield Village is poor would be an understatement. In six prior outings, the world No. 3 has missed the cut four times and failed to register a single top-60 result. That begs wondering: what is different this time around?

Most would assume his driving accuracy and streaky iron play are present this week, but surprisingly they are not. Instead, it has been his short-game prowess, as Smith has gotten up-and-down 15 of 18 times and leads the field in strokes gained around the green. It will be interesting to see if this part of his game will continue to bail him out, as the 28-year-old has connected on only 18 fairways and 21 greens in regulation through 36 holes.

“[I am] really happy with where my short game’s at,” said Smith. “I feel like I’m rolling the ball really good. Just need to sort out that longer stuff. Didn’t really hit many fairways on the back nine, but just need to hit a few balls and sort it out.”

Other contenders

T2. Denny McCarthy and K.H. Lee (-7)

T4. Davis Riley, Cameron Young, Jhonattan Vegas, Luke List and Billy Horschel (-6)

T9. Aaron Wise, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari and Keith Mitchell (-5)

McIlroy is the elephant in the room, as he been playing beautifully ever since his fast finish at the 2022 Masters. Collecting a top five at the Wells Fargo Championship and putting together a top-10 effort at the PGA Championship, the Northern Irishman looks well on his way to adding to this stretch of quality results.

“Another solid day’s play,” said McIlroy after a second round of 3-under 69. “Couple of silly bogeys … but I guess it sort of happens around here. It’s getting tricky and you’re going to make bogeys regardless of where they come. Overall, two solid rounds of golf, right in contention going into the weekend.”

Riley and Young are back at it again

The two PGA Tour rookies are in contention once again as they both sit inside the top five after 36 holes. At 6 under, they are only two strokes off the lead and well-positioned to capture their first victory on tour. Coming into this week, Riley had six top-10 finishes, including a playoff loss at the Valspar Championship and a tie for fourth at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. Meanwhile, Young possesses five podium finishes, including three in his last three starts with the most recent coming at the PGA Championship.

“I think the more I put myself there, the more comfortable I’ll be,” said Young on Friday. “Not that I’m uncomfortable, particularly, but I think the more it just becomes normal, the more likely you are to have a day where — a Saturday or a Sunday where you can really post a really low number, which I haven’t really done yet.”

Professional golfers … they’re just like us

Former Memorial Tournament winner Jon Rahm looks primed to contend for a second title at Muirfield Village over the weekend, but that is not why he is making news today. The world No. 2 hit a shot all of us golf fans and weekend warriors can relate to when he shanked his approach into the par-4 second during his second round.

“Ball below my feet, uncomfortable shot, wind,” said Rahm. “And tried to drive it in low and didn’t clear at all. Full of indecision. It was a recipe for disaster. Could have been either green-side bunker or short and ended up being worse. I did get lucky with what happened. I was able to save a bogey, which was minimizing the mistake. I thought it was going out of bounds, and I was staring at a 7.”

PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas joined in on the fun on social media, needling the Spaniard for his shot. The world No. 5 experienced a similar shot of his own in the final round at the Southern Hills, recovered for bogey and eventually captured his second major championship. Time will tell if Rahm can do the same as he enters the weekend six strokes off the lead.

Collin Morikawa’s cold streak continues

The last month has not been kind to the 25-year-old, as he remains without a top-20 finish since the Masters. The iron play has been middling, and the putter was as bad as it gets and on Friday. He missed only his second cut of the year with a 36-hole score of 4 over. In three prior trips to Muirfield Village, Morikawa had collected a victory and a playoff defeat to Patrick Cantlay at last season’s Memorial Tournament. With this being his last start until the U.S. Open at The Country Club, one has to wonder how the two-time major champion will fare in Boston.

Updated odds and picks

Here’s a look at the updated odds at the halfway point, via Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Cameron Smith: 3-1
  • Rory McIlroy: 8-1
  • Cameron Young: 10-1
  • K.H. Lee: 12-1
  • Davis Riley: 12-1
  • Billy Horschel: 14-1
  • Denny McCarthy: 18-1
  • Luke List: 22-1
  • Joaquin Niemann: 25-1
  • Jhonattan Vegas: 25-1
  • Aaron Wise: 25-1

Oddly enough, we have seen Smith in this position before at a Nicklaus design, as he was the 36-hole leader at The Concession Club last year before a poor weekend saw him tumble down the leaderboard. With the golf course becoming firmer and faster, ball-striking competence will be even more important, which may spell trouble for Smith. Corey Conners (-2) at 100-1 leads the field in strokes gained approach and has missed only five greens in regulation up to this point. The putter is often the Achilles heel for the Canadian, as it is this week, yet if it chooses to cooperate in the back-half of this tournament, he is more than capable of overcoming a six-stroke deficit.


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