Dublin: Mentally battered by shifting winds and challenging wet conditions, defending champion Steve Stricker ended a gruelling day at the Memorial tournament with a three-birdie flourish on Friday.

The American world number 10, who had to contend with a rain delay of just under two hours early in the second round, birdied the seventh, eighth and ninth for a two-under-par 70 in the event hosted by golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

Having flirted with the projected cut line for much of a marathon day at an overcast Muirfield Village Golf Club, Stricker signed off in style by sinking a 35-footer on the ninth green to post a one-under total of 143.

"I made some nice putts coming in, something I haven't been doing for a while ... and got myself right back in there," a relieved Stricker told reporters.

"I don't think anybody is really going to run away with it today. I hung in there and made three good birdies to finish the round.

"It was a struggle the first two days. I played the first two days like I normally play here, to tell you the truth. Last year was a little out of the norm. I don't know what happened last year."

Long regarded as one of the best putters in the game, Stricker had not finished higher than 13th in 11 appearances at Muirfield Village until he triumphed by one shot last year to claim his 10th PGA Tour title.

"This was more like the way I usually play at Muirfield the last couple of days," the 45-year-old American smiled.

Stricker had opened with a 73 in firm and fast-running conditions at a sunny Muirfield Village on Thursday, then had to adjust to a major weather change on Friday.

"It was a long day, and dealing with all sorts of different conditions and changing conditions throughout the day, that wears on you mentally, too," he said.

"I don't know how long it ended up taking us today to play, but I'm glad I'm finished. We probably got the better end of the deal in this, even though we played in some rain.

"We played the last seven or eight holes in that wind, and it was all over the place. It's tough to pick a club."

Asked what he did during the rain delay of just under two hours, Stricker replied: "We just hung out, but I didn't eat anything this time.

"You just hang out, call home, check on everything at home, play on your phone and just take it easy, I guess. Just wait it out."


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