Here’s what this week’s leader in strokes gained: putting says he focuses on over the ball

Troy Merritt sizes up a putt on Thursday at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

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The FedEx Cup playoffs offer an incredible opportunity for players to change the entire trajectory of their season in the span of three weeks. A good performance in the opening tournament — this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship — can help a player gain access to the next two cut-free (and financially lucrative) tournaments.

That’s certainly the case thus far for FedEx St. Jude contender Troy Merritt, who is currently tied for second at the tournament’s halfway point, one shot behind leader J.J. Spaun.

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By: Jessica Marksbury

Merritt came into the week ranked 64th in the FedEx Cup standings — good enough for entry into next week’s BMW Championship, but a far cry from the Top-30 he needs to get into the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

But if Merritt can hang on to at least a runner-up finish on Sunday, he’s projected to jump to No. 17 — an impressive move of 47 spots.

His solid play this week is largely thanks to a hot putter. Merritt leads the field in strokes gained: putting, and says he attributes his prowess on the green to “two little reminders” he’s been employing in Memphis.

“Take the putter back with the left shoulder so the hands don’t break down,” he said. “Helps with the tempo, and then not being handsy on the way through. I’m not a handsy putter, I never have been, and when things get handsy I don’t make putts. So two kind of reminders, back to the basics of how I putt, so so far they’ve been going in this week.”

Merritt shined at TPC Southwind on Friday, carding six birdies and a hole-out eagle to post a second-consecutive round of 65.

Merritt will play in the second-to-last pairing on Saturday at 1:50 p.m. ET alongside Denny McCarthy. You can find out everything you need to know about how to watch or stream the tournament here.

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Golf.com Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.