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Fitzpatrick leaps into Memphis lead

Fitzpatrick leaps into Memphis lead

Matthew Fitzpatrick carded the lowest World Golf Championships round of his career to take a two shot lead into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

The Englishman made seven birdies and a single bogey to sign for a brilliant 64 and get to nine under, leading the way from Spaniard Jon Rahm, Americans Billy Horschel and Patrick Cantlay, and Australian Cameron Smith.

Japan's Shugo Imahira was then at six under, a shot clear of Swede Alex Noren, English pair Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, World Number One Brooks Koepka and his fellow Americans Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson.

Fitzpatrick is a five time European Tour winner and has now moved himself right into the mix for a first World Golf Championships title, with his best finish so far a tie for seventh at the 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions.

A victory at TPC Southwind would also extend his remarkable record of having won at least once in every season since claiming his playing privileges at the 2014 Qualifying School.

Jon Rahm

"I'm not on anyone's radar every week, it's great," he said. "Obviously you want to get to that stage where you are on the radar and you're doing press conferences every week but, at the same time, being where I am is not an issue. It's a nice place to be.

"I think the golf course probably suits me a little bit more than most. If you miss a fairway, you don't know how it's going to come out of the rough, so that makes it tougher.

"If I can just keep hitting fairways and greens then you give yourself a lot of chances. Hopefully from there, just keep doing what I'm doing really.

"I just made my putts. It's something I've struggled to do this year. Previous years I've been playing great and end of last year and majority of this year I've struggled a little bit."

Fitzpatrick made a stunning start with four birdies and most of that was due to some brilliant iron play.

Justin Rose

He holed from 26 feet on the second but his approaches to the first and third were both to eight feet, while he put his tee shot on the par three fourth to nine.

The 24-year-old dropped his only shot of the day after finding sand off the tee at the par three eighth but a stunning approach to seven feet at the next edged him ahead on his own at the turn.

Another seven footer down the hill on the 12th and a wonderful 27 foot putt after laying up at the par five 16th then put him in a commanding position.

Rahm entered the day with a three shot lead but that soon disappeared as he dropped shots on the third, fourth and 12th.

He bounced back with an 18 footer on the 13th but gave the shot back on the 15th before making the most of the next and putting an approach to five feet on the penultimate hole.

Billy Horschel

European Tour affiliate member Horschel was just one back but made a second bogey of the day on his final hole to go with an eagle and four birdies.

Smith - the back to back reigning Australian PGA Championship winner - also finished with a bogey after finding water on the 18th alongside birdies on the fourth, ninth and 12th.

Cantlay sandwiched a double bogey on the 12th with birdies on the third, eighth, 16th and last.

Imahira carded a 69, a score matched by Noren and Poulter, with Rose going one better.

Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson were then in the group at four under.

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