DUBLIN, Ohio — Tony Finau, who said he’s been “inspired’’ by the bombs-away strategy of Bryson DeChambeau, has decided to swing harder for more success.
Ryan Palmer, disturbed by his faltering short game and putting, turned to Steve Stricker for advice and he unearthed an old putter he hadn’t used in some five years and put it back into play.
Both players, polar-opposite types, enter the weekend with a share of the Memorial lead at 9-under after Palmer shot 68 in Friday’s second round and Finau shot 69 at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
They’re trailed by Jon Rahm at 8-under , then Gary Woodland, Luke List and Chez Reavie at 6-under, and then Jason Day, who’s 5-under after shooting 66 on Friday.
Finau and Palmer are proof that success comes from all kinds of formulas.
“In the middle of last week, my coach Boyd Summerhays and I decided to crank some up a little bit after being inspired by Bryson, seeing how straight he was hitting it and how hard,’’ Finau said. “So, I decided to crank it up and work on hitting a really hard fade. I’ve let a few go so far this week, and it’s been pretty fun for me to kind of reach back more so than I have in the past and kind of open up and hit some.’’
Palmer, who hasn’t played in the Memorial since 2011, played in last week’s Workday Charity Open at Muirfield and had the unusual and somewhat insulting circumstance of having to return to Muirfield Village on the Saturday for one final hole to close out his second-round 81.
He went home to Texas the next day for a couple days before returning to Ohio to play this week. Palmer’s caddie, James Edmondson, suggested that he shake things up a bit and mentioned going back to the old putter — an Odyssey Rossie II — that had been in his bag since his college days.
“I called Steve Stricker wanting to play nine holes with him and I wanted his advice on my short game,” Palmer said. “He showed me some things that I was doing wrong and what he does, what he concentrates on, and I put the work into it.”
Palmer responded with an opening-round 67 followed by Friday’s 68.
“That was a good text I sent to [Stricker],” Palmer said. “The short-game lesson with Stricker for sure (helped) and I put in the work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and it was a matter of putting it to the test Thursday. For me, the hard part is over in my mind, and now we’re just letting it go on the weekend. I really feel I have a chance come Sunday.’’
So, too, does Finau, who has only one PGA Tour victory. His confidence was buoyed by a 59 he shot last week at home while playing with his son.
“It kind of just told me how good I am at scoring the golf ball,’’ Finau said. “It told me I was in good form. I think I definitely carried some of that right into this week, and that confidence I think is pretty cool. It’s only the second time I’ve ever shot in the 50s, so that was quite fun to have my boy there and some of his crew with me.’’