MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lee Westwood had heard how challenging the TPC Southwind course is when the wind blows. Now the Englishman knows for himself how true all that talk really is.
Westwood scrambled to birdie his final three holes in grabbing a share of a one-stroke lead Friday with Garrett Willis after the second round of the St. Jude Classic with the winds gusting up to 22 mph. Westwood, making his Memphis debut this week as part of his tuneup for next week's U.S. Open, said that made it tricky judging shots after seeing no wind Thursday.
"You've got to be on the fairway to attack the flags, and I just didn't hit it close enough to the flag early on," he said. "So it was a day of patience and battling, and I was rewarded at the end of the round with three birdies for doing that."
Westwood had a one-stroke lead after his opening 65, and the world's No. 3-ranked player dropped two strokes off the pace with two bogeys. He rolled in a 26-footer for birdie on No. 17, and then hit a 9-iron within 4 feet for a 68 that tied him with Willis at 9-under 131 total through 36 holes.
Willis, who spent last year on the Nationwide Tour, had five birdies in a bogey-free round to put himself in the final group for Saturday.
Charley Hoffman had the clubhouse lead early with a 65 and was at 132. Robert Karlsson (66) and Robert Garrigus (66) were tied for third at 133. Texas teenager Jordan Spieth, who became the sixth-youngest to make a PGA cut at the Byron Nelson last month, missed this cut at 1 over as he finished 2-over 142.
With 81 making the cut, they face another cut Saturday after 54 holes to trim the field further to the low 70 golfers and ties.
Hoffman took advantage of his morning tee time with little wind in becoming the first to reach 8 under. His sixth birdie, which he rolled in from 78 feet on the par-3 14th, helped him take the clubhouse lead.
"I think they gypped me a few feet," Hoffman said on the measurement of a putt he put at 90 feet and the longest putt of his life.
Westwood joined him at 8 under with his first birdie of the round on his fourth hole. He gave that stroke back with a bogey on No. 8 when he was short of the par-3 green and didn't get up and down. Westwood pushed a 17-footer for birdie on No. 9 just right of the hole.
He dropped another shot on the par-3 14th when he hit his tee shot into a bunker behind the green and two-putted.
"I set myself a little task of trying to birdie two of the last four holes to shoot under 70," Westwood said. "I birdied the last three holes and had a good chance at 15. I'm pleased with that. It was a great way to finish off the day and send it into tomorrow with momentum."
Willis won the 2001 Tucson Open before finding himself back on the Nationwide Tour last year where he finished 12th on the money list.