DUBLIN, Ohio — Bill Haas played the best golf in the toughest conditions Friday in the rain-delayed Memorial.
When the second round was suspended as dark clouds rolled in and forced the third stoppage in play, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were close to each other on the leaderboard, even if they were miles away from Haas, who had a 5-under 67.
That didn’t bode well for Woods, the five-time Memorial winner who had a most peculiar round in wind and on fast greens. He three-putted from five feet for double bogey on the par-5 15th, chopped up the final hole for a bogey, and wound up with a 74.
“Tough conditions out there, and I didn’t exactly play my best, either,” said Woods, who had his worst 36-hole total (145) at the Memorial since he first played it in 1997.
McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut until he fired off five birdies, looking more comfortable with his putts and attacking with his driver. He was 4 under for his round and one shot inside the cut line — and one shot behind Woods. McIlroy was in a greenside bunker in two shots at the par-5 15th when play was stopped.
“The major goal today was to try to make it into the weekend,” McIlroy said. “I’m on the right track to do that.”
The second round was to resume at 7:30 a.m. today.
The Memorial has a long history of bad weather, and it’s a tough spot for it to happen. Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of competition, said more storms were expected early this afternoon and into Sunday morning. Several players have U.S. Open qualifying Monday.
Morning or afternoon, Muirfield Village was no picnic. The wind was a factor in the morning, and it began to increase in strength, while the greens were firm and crispy and required caution even on the shorter putts.
Haas played through it beautifully, taking advantage of one bad tee shot that he thought was headed out-of-bounds on the par-5 11th. He hit a provisional, didn’t need it and wound up making a birdie. He also holed a bunker shot for eagle on No. 5 and was at 9-under 135.
He was three shots clear of Matt Kuchar, who had a 70, among those who finished the round.
Charl Schwartzel, who made 10 birdies in an opening-round 65, struggled on the greens and was 1 over for his day and three shots behind. He had three holes remaining. Bubba Watson was at 6 under through 14 holes, and his biggest battle was with allergies. He wore sunglasses under gathering clouds and kept a wet towel around his neck, anything to keep his allergies under control.
The advantage for those still on the course was the rain delay of 1 1/2 hours. It rained hard for a short time, which slightly softened the greens, and the afternoon starters returned to a course with only a breeze.
“The wind died down, made it a lot easier to play the holes,” Watson said.
Kyle Stanley also was at 6 under and had five holes remaining.
Only six players from the morning round managed to break 70, a testament to a course that is dry and fast, especially on the greens. The wind was strong early and showed no sign of letting up.