DUBLIN, Ohio — Two matches at home against Phil Mickelson made Brendan Steele feel inadequate. Two rounds at the Memorial gave him a share of the lead.
Steele put in a little more work and it paid off over two days in soft conditions at Muirfield Village. He had 5-under 67 Friday and was tied for the lead with past Memorial champion Matt Kuchar (66) going into a wide-open weekend.
Steele, whose only PGA Tour victory was in his rookie season five years ago, took the last two weeks off to attend a wedding, go fishing with his father and venture over to San Diego to play a few games with Mickelson at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe. Steele lost 2 and 1 on the first day, 5 and 4 on the second.
He made a quick fix with swing coach Rick Smith, had time for a few more tweaks, and he took that straight to the course for solid play over the last two days. Mickelson is five back.
Steele and Kuchar were at 12-under 132. The scoring was so good that the cut was at 2-under 142, the lowest since Jack Nicklaus started this tournament in 1976.
Jordan Spieth opened with two bogeys in four holes but made six birdies over his last 12 holes for 68 and is six back. Rory McIlroy shot 66, playing the last seven holes in even par. Jason Day was thrilled with 71 because he lost his swing and was anticipating the upper 70s.
Emiliano Grillo had 66 and was one shot behind with Gary Woodland, who hit within 3 feet for eagle on the par-5 15th. Dustin Johnson, who opened with 64, had two bogeys on the back nine and took double bogey on the par-4 sixth hole. It led to 71; he was three shots behind.
LPGA: Anna Nordqvist opened her LPGA Classic title defense with 7-under 64 for a share of the lead with Ai Miyazato and Paula Reto in Galloway Township, N.J. Stacy Lewis shot 66 at the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview. Nordqvist bogeyed Nos. 11 and 12, the second and third holes of her round, then birdied nine of the last 12 holes. Japan's Haru Nomura, a two-time winner this year, was a stroke back along with Casey Grice and Catriona Matthew. Lewis had five birdies in a bogey-free round and is tied with Beatriz Recari, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Christel Boeljon, Katherine Kirk, Stephanie Meadow and Amelia Lewis.
CHAMPIONS: John Inman shot 7-under 65 at the Wakonda Club to take a two-stroke lead in the Principal Charity Classic at Des Moines, Iowa. It's the first time Inman, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, has led after the opening round on the senior circuit. Tom Lehman was tied for second with Todd Hamilton, Gary Hallberg, Mike Goodes and John Riegger.
POULTER SIDELINED: Englishman Ian Poulter will be sidelined for the next four months with a right foot injury that has bothered him for more than two years and reached the point where it is painful to walk and practice. He is No. 85 in the world, his lowest ranking since 2003.