POTOMAC, United States: While some top European golfers are already back home preparing for the British Open, Sweden’s David Lingmerth is making the most of his decision to play a familiar American course this week.
Lingmerth fired a bogey-free five-under par 65 to grab a two-stroke lead over Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy after Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) second round of the PGA National, standing on 10-under 130 at TPC Potomac.
After birdies on four of his first six holes Thursday helped him shoot 65 and seize the 18-hole lead, the Swede sizzled at the start again with birdies on three of the first five holes.
“I’m very pleased, but got a long way to go,” Lingmerth said. “Been in pretty good control of my game so far. Still 36 holes to go, so looking forward to the weekend. Everything’s feeling really good.”
Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champion, shot 65 to stand second on 132 with American Daniel Summerhays third on 134.
India’s Arjun Atwal and South Korean Kang Sung were five adrift on 135. No one else was within six strokes of the lead.
Lingmerth, 29, seeks his second PGA title after taking the 2015 Memorial, beating England’s Justin Rose in a playoff.
Several top players are already in Europe ahead of the British Open in three weeks at Royal Birkdale.
Lingmerth has not qualified but would take one of four spots on offer this week with a victory. He’s dubious on the benefits of being there now.
“We’re talking about the British Open,” Lingmerth said. “There’s not necessarily a huge advantage of going over there this early. A lot of guys like playing Scottish Open the week before, which I think is a good idea, because links golf is a little different. So getting acclimated to it a little bit sure doesn’t hurt.”
Lingmerth sank a 15-foot putt at the par-5 second, holed a 25-footer at the par-3 third and made an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-4 fifth, then opened and closed the back nine with birdies, making putts of two feet at the par-5 10th and seven feet at 18.
“It’s so important to hit the fairways out here and I’ve been doing a decent job of that,” Lingmerth said. “I’ve been rolling it really well, so just trying to give myself some chances.”
This is the first PGA event at the former Avenel layout since 2006 but Lingmerth sees his 2012 Web.com Tour win here as an edge.
“Anytime you come back to a course where you have great memories, it’s always going to help,” he said. “I’ll probably have a bit of an advantage.”
Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champion, birdied three of the first four holes on the front and back nine while taking a lone bogey at 15. The 40-year-old from Adelaide seeks his ninth US PGA victory, 13th pro win overall. His last title came in 2014 at Reno, Nevada.
It ‘beats you on the head’
“Very nice to get off to a start like that,” Ogilvy said. “You kind of want to get under before you’re over on a course like this because it’s hard to catch up. It kind of beats you on the head.”
Atwal, a 44-year-old whose 2010 Greensboro triumph made him the first India-born US PGA tour winner, is playing only his fifth event of the year.
Kang, 30, seeks his first PGA title, having led after 54 holes at Houston in April only to finish second.
Aussie Marc Leishman, one back when the day began, fell back with a 72.
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US PGA NATIONAL SCORES
Scores after Friday’s opening round of the US PGA National (par-70, USA unless noted):
65 – David Lingmerth (SWE)
66 – Troy Merritt, Marc Leishman (AUS), Johnson Wagner, Kang Sung (KOR), Nick Taylor (CAN), Daniel Summerhays
67 – Russell Henley, Zac Blair, Martin Laird (SCO), Geoff Ogilvy (AUS), Patrick Reed, James Hahn, Bryson DeChambeau
68 – Martin Flores, Ricky Barnes, Lucas Glover, Sam Saunders, Curtis Luck, Grayson Murray, Matt Jones (AUS), Mackenzie Hughes (CAN), Ben Martin, Kevin Streelman, Arjun Atwal (IND)
69 – Jason Gore, Bud Cauley, Tony Finau, D.A. Points, Michael Kim, Bill Haas