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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Brendon Todd shot a 5-under 65 Friday and grabbed a two-stroke lead through 36 holes of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

Todd trailed defending champion Brooks Koepka after the first round by two strokes. He quickly erased that deficit and took the lead to himself with a bogey-free, five-birdie round for a 129 total at the World Golf Championships event at TPC Southwind.

Rickie Fowler closed with birdies on his final two holes for a 67 and 131 total just behind Todd.

Koepka had the lead to himself at 10 under before falling apart on his back nine with a double bogey and two bogeys. He finished with a 71, his first time over par at this course in seven rounds. He was four strokes back, tied with Byeong Hun An (65) and Chez Reavie (67).

Jon Rahm shot a 74 and now is 4 over in his first event as No. 1 in the world.

Justin Thomas, who could go back to No. 1 in the world with a win, was seven strokes back after a 70. Rory McIlroy’s bid to be No. 1 again may have to wait until the PGA championship next week. He shot a 66, but is 10 strokes back.

The wind eased from Thursday, making it easier off the tee in a round started early Friday morning to avoid expected thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Todd won back-to-back tournaments last November for his first win on tour since winning the Byron Nelson in 2014. Since the return to play in June, Todd missed two cuts with his best finish a tie for 11th at the Travelers Championship.

On Friday, his putter worked well enough that he needed only 24 putts in a round that featured a 50-footer for birdie on the par-3 No. 14. Todd hit a 6-iron to the left side of the green, and he had to roll the ball over a mound breaking left at least 5 feet.

Todd stayed close to Koepka with birdies on Nos. 2 and 7. Todd sunk a 13-footer on the par-3 island green of No. 11 to go 9 under just as Koepka became the first to reach double digits under par.

That’s when Koepka started struggling with his putter. Koepka double-bogeyed No. 2 when he three-putted after missing a putt for par from 3 feet. His putter cost him a birdie chance on the par-5 No. 3.

That put Todd atop the leaderboard at 9 under, and his putter helped him birdie consecutive holes including the big putt on No. 14. He sunk a 12-footer for a second straight birdie on No. 15 to go 11 under and a four-stroke lead until Fowler’s birdie-birdie finish.

Fowler might’ve had a piece of the lead if not for hitting his tee shot into the water in front of the island green at No. 11. He rebounded by hitting his approach 175 yards on No. 17 to 3 feet for birdie, and he holed out from the fairway just off the front of the green on No. 18.


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Playing his sixth event in a row, Brooks Koepka flat during opening 72

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Brooks Koepka would prefer to have this week off. He’s playing his sixth tournament in a row and is coming off back-to-back weeks in contention in big events. Little wonder he conceded that he’s “a bit tired” and came out “pretty flat” Thursday at the Wyndham Championship, where he opened with a 2-over 72 and is in danger of missing the cut.

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Then there's the reality of the situation: Koepka entered the week at No. 92 in the FedExCup standings, and playing this week, even while exhausted, could help improve his standing in the season-long race.

“Even if I gain one spot in the FedEx, it makes it that much easier for next week, so you’ve got to play, to see where you’re at,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever played more than four in a row pretty much out here. It will be quite a long stretch, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points standings

If the end goal is to reach Atlanta for the Tour Championship, that’d mean Koepka would have played nine tournaments in a row. With the season finale on Monday, Sept. 7, it’d be a quick turnaround for the U.S. Open – most players will arrive in the New York City area the following Sunday, Sept. 13. That’s not much recovery time for a player who admitted he’s still “nowhere near 100 percent” after battling a sore knee the past two seasons.

That’s why, as much as he’d like to be among the top 30 at East Lake, “at the same time it would be nice to have a couple weeks off to kind of get ready for the U.S. Open,” said Koepka, who has finished 1-1-2 in that event over the past three years.

Coming off a disappointing final round at the PGA Championship, where he shot the second-worst score of the day (74) to plummet from a tie for fourth to 29th, Koepka couldn’t generate any momentum during the opening round of the Wyndham. Despite hitting all but three greens, he made only two birdies and struggled mightily on the greens at Sedgefield Country Club. He took 35 putts, holed only one attempt longer than 10 feet and, when he finished his round, had lost more than 3 ½ shots to the field with his putter.

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It’s been a challenging season for the four-time major winner, who missed most of the fall because of his knee injury and, until recently, has struggled to find his form. With the coronavirus pandemic wiping out nearly a dozen weeks, he’s been “behind the eight ball” in terms of his playoff positioning.   

Koepka will likely need a round in the mid- to upper-60s Friday to make the cut. Even with more FedExCup points available in the playoffs, an early exit would make his top-30 goal even more difficult.

“I’ve got to play, I’ve got no other option,” he said.

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