Golf: Harris English keeps St Jude lead with Cameron Smith looming

Harris English of the US hits his tee shot on the eleventh hole during the second round.
Harris English of the US hits his tee shot on the eleventh hole during the second round.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (FIELD LEVEL MEDIA REUTERS) - Harris English maintained the solo lead at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at 13-under-par 127 after a second-round 65 on Friday (Aug 6), while Cameron Smith of Australia stole the show with his putter.

Smith needed just 18 putts on Friday at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, tying the PGA Tour record for fewest putts in a round, on his way to an 8-under 62 and a tie for second place at 11 under.

Mexico's Abraham Ancer also carded a 62 on Friday to tie Smith for second place.

Smith kept his number of putts so low thanks to his touch around the green. He holed out from a greenside bunker on the par-5 third hole for an eagle, then chipped in for par on the next hole. He converted from the fringe for par on the par-3 eighth and for birdie on the par-5 16th.

When actually on the green, Smith two-putted just four times. His longest make was a birdie of almost 30 feet on No. 5, and he drained a 23-footer on No. 12.

He became the 12th player to finish a stroke-play round on tour with just 18 putts.

The low number of putts caught Smith by surprise toward the end of his round saying he was triple-checking his numbers. He was unaware of the record as he walked the last fairway then missed a 22-foot putt on 18.

"The greens are so good around here, if you get the ball started online and you've hit a good putt, most of the time they're going in," Smith said. "Yeah, really just a good day on the greens, I guess."

Smith has three career PGA Tour victories, the most recent coming alongside countryman Marc Leishman at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event in April.

Not to be outdone, Ancer made eight birdies and stayed bogey-free, as did Smith. It was Ancer's 14th round without a bogey this season, which leads all players.

Though ranked 23rd in the world, the 30-year-old is still searching for his first PGA Tour win.

"Happy that I got a round like that under my belt here," Ancer said. "This is a very demanding golf course off the tee and also with iron play. I know it wasn't playing as tough as it could be just because it was a little softer and not very windy, but still you have to hit your spots, for sure."

English spun his second shot on the third hole to within four feet for an easy eagle putt, rebounding from a bogey on the previous hole. He would not bogey again and added birdies on Nos. 8, 11, 14 and 16 - three of them par-3s.

"A lot of guys feel like they can overpower this course or hit driver a lot more," English said. "My main goal on every hole is to hit it in the fairway and whatever club I'm most comfortable with getting the ball on the fairway."

Only 66 players are competing at the event due to its invitational status, and there was no cut Friday. Englishman Ian Poulter (66), Sam Burns (64) and Scottie Scheffler (65) are tied for fourth at 10 under, and Bryson DeChambeau (66) and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (64) are tied for seventh at 9 under.