Stricker keeps top spot
Steve Stricker (Gallo Images)
American Steve Stricker faded after making a scorching start to the Memorial tournament third round on Saturday yet still preserved his three-shot overnight lead.Full leaderboard and Live scoring
The world No 8 spectacularly eagled two of his first five holes on a sweltering afternoon at Muirfield Village Golf Club but dropped two shots after the turn on the way to a three-under-par 69.
That left Stricker at 12-under 204 in the event hosted by Jack Nicklaus, with compatriot Jonathan Byrd in second spot after tapping in a two-foot birdie putt at the last for a matching 69.
Americans Matt Kuchar (68) and Brandt Jobe (69) were tied for third at eight under, one stroke better than compatriots Mark Wilson (66) and Shaun Micheel (67) and Britain's Rory McIlroy (71).
Three ahead of the chasing pack overnight, Stricker made an explosive start by holing out from 116 yards to eagle the par-four second.
He also eagled the par-five fifth, sinking a seven-foot putt to stretch his lead to four strokes at 13 under.
Although Stricker bogeyed the par-four sixth after overhitting the green with his approach, he picked up further shots at the seventh and eighth – where he sank a 24-footer – to regain a four-stroke cushion.
However he struggled to maintain momentum on the more difficult back nine with the course running fast and firm and leaving no margin for error with tee shots and approaches.
He bogeyed the par-five 15th after his first two shots ended up in the left rough and also the par-three 16th after ending up in a greenside bunker and missing a four-foot putt for par.
Long regarded as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, Stricker lipped out with a birdie attempt from seven feet at the par-four 17th before paring the last.