Look of a leader
After hitting onto the green, John Merrick would roll in a birdie putt on No. 13 on Thursday.
John Merrick gave himself a little pep talk coming into the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Apparently it was pretty good.
Merrick, who tied for 11th here last year, shot a 4-under 66 to grab a share of the first-round lead with Jeff Maggert at TPC Southwind.
“Kind of was trying to think about that last year, that decent finish coming into this week, and kind of telling myself, you know, I played good here, I can do it again,” Merrick said.
Merrick used some clutch putting and solid ball-striking to rise to the top. He made birdie putts of 9, 6, 7, 18 and 5 feet.
“I hit a couple loose drives, I think on 7 and then on 18,” Merrick said. “Other than that I, kind of kept it in play, kept it in the fairways. That’s kind of the only way you’re going to score out here with the greens being so firm and how windy it is.”
Merrick’s only hiccup came on the 18th, when he hit his tee shot in the hazard. He chipped up to the green from 30 yards away and saved bogey.
“Had a loose shot there on 18, but, you know, you’re going — can’t hit every shot perfect out there,” he said. “So I was really happy with today.”
The 66 marked Merrick’s lowest first round on the PGA TOUR since he carded the same number at last year’s St. Jude.
Merrick has made seven of 15 cuts this season. His best finish is tied for 33rd at the Farmers Insurance Open.