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(Reuters) - Jason Dufner threatened to run away with the Memorial tournament, carding a second successive seven-under-par 65 to surge to a five-shot lead after the second round in Dublin, Ohio on Friday.
Buoyed by an eagle at the par-four 18th, his ninth hole, where his six-iron from 176 yards rolled to the back fringe before reversing direction back down the hill into the cup, Dufner posted a tournament record-low 36-hole total of 14-under 130 under sunny skies at Muirfield Village.
Fellow American Daniel Summerhays (69) bogeyed the last but still finished the day in second place on nine-under, with compatriot Rickie Fowler (66) another shot behind.
World number one Dustin Johnson followed up his opening 78 with a 74 and missed the cut, two weeks before defending his U.S. Open title at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
“Did everything pretty well,” Dufner told Golf Channel. “I would have like to have hit a couple more fairways but hit my irons when I was in the fairways pretty good. I made some nice pars and rolled in some putts.”
Dufner, whose four PGA Tour victories include a major at the 2013 PGA Championship, has long enjoyed a reputation as a premier ball-striker whose putting does not always match his long game.
But he has not yet missed a putt from inside 10 feet, a feat he credits to recent work with a putting training device that has helped his consistency.
“It not only helps me with my stroke but also helps with my set-up,” he said. “It makes sure I’m consistently the same. That’s really given me a lot of confidence."
Second-placed Summerhays faced a big deficit before even starting his afternoon round.
“Coming into the day I was one shot back and before I teed off I was eight back,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, I watched a few of Duf’s highlights, the hole-out on 18 and everything. I went ‘whoa, I’m this far behind, let’s go and make some birdies.’ Overall I’m really pleased with the round.”
Fowler birdied three in a row through his penultimate hole to jump up into third place: “Fairly simple. A lot of fairways, a lot of greens and threw in a few birdies and tried not to fall too far behind Duf,” Fowler said. “Maybe I’d be a little closer if I hadn’t made a triple (bogey) yesterday.”
Johnson was the biggest name to miss the cut, joined by rising Spanish talent Jon Rahm, who bowed out early for just the second time since turning pro last year. Rahm, who struggled on the lightning-fast greens, added a 77 to his opening 73.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine