Huston Ties Johnson for Top Spot

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- John Huston fired an 8-under 63 on Friday to match Richard S. Johnson atop the leaderboard at the midway point of the St. Jude Classic. The duo tallied two-day totals of 12-under-par 130 and own a one-shot lead over David Peoples.
 
Fredrik Jacobson and David Gossett posted matching rounds of 4-under 67 to share fourth place at 9-under-par 133.
 
The first round was completed Friday morning as darkness forced the suspension of play on Thursday. There were two different rain stoppages on Thursday but Friday's play went off without delay.
 
Huston parred the first two holes at the TPC at Southwind but took advantage of the par-5 third hole. He missed the green on the left side but chipped in from 60 feet.
 
Huston had an even better chance at eagle at the par-5 fifth when his second stopped 12 feet from the hole. He two-putted for birdie and added a four-footer at the eighth to make the turn at 4-under-par 32.
 
At the par-3 11th, Huston hit an 8-iron to 15 feet and sank the birdie try. Two holes later, Huston found a greenside bunker but holed out from the trap to reach 6-under on his round and 10-under for the tournament.
 
Huston once again capitalized on the par-5s, this time at the 16th. He missed the green short with his second but pitched a foot from the hole and kicked in his birdie try.
 
Huston hit a good drive at the 18th and nestled a 9-iron eight feet from the hole. He ran home that birdie putt to polish off his 63 and tie Johnson in first place.
 
'I played extremely well today,' said Huston, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour. 'I drove the ball really well, so I gave myself a lot of good chances. I chipped in one time, made one from the bunker, so everything pretty much went pretty well.'
 
Johnson, a tour rookie who played on the European Tour before coming to the PGA Tour, parred his first five holes on Friday. At the sixth, Johnson played a 7-iron to 10 feet and sank the birdie putt.
 
Johnson parred eight consecutive holes around the turn but closed with a flourish. At No. 15, Johnson once again used a 7-iron successfully, this time resulting in a nine-foot birdie putt.
 
He knocked a 3-wood from 246 yards out at the 16th to six feet and sank the eagle putt to get to 11-under par for the tournament. Johnson's 3-wood tee shot at the 17th got caught in the wind and he was left with 225 yards to the green. Johnson hit a low 4-iron to 10 feet and drained the birdie to shoot a 5-under 66.
 
Johnson was one of the players who had to return to the course Friday morning. He played 25 holes and after his first round, he found himself tied for the lead with Jay Haas and Darron Stiles.
 
'My thought after the first, when I was 4-under yesterday was just trying to go out and play your own game and see what it leads to,' said Johnson. 'It's a long way left. We're only halfway there, but I'm really happy to be on top for the moment. If I can continue playing like I've done, I'm feeling pretty confident that this is going to go pretty good.'
 
Haas only managed a 1-under 70 on Friday but is tied for sixth place with two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (66) and Kirk Triplett (67). The trio is knotted at 8-under-par 134.
 
David Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion, and Pat Bates carded matching rounds of 67 to join Chris Riley in a share of ninth at minus-7.
 
Len Mattiace, the 2002 champion, shot an even-par 71 and is part of group in 23rd at 4-under-par 138.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 1-under-par 141 and among the notable players to miss out on weekend action were: Steve Elkington (143), Bernhard Langer (146) and Ty Tryon (146).

 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Full coverage of the FedEx St. Jude Classic