PGA Tour
Merritt matches course record at Harbour Town

Hilton Head Island, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Troy Merritt fired a 10-under 61 on Friday to match the course record and soar into the lead at the Heritage.

Merritt, who is looking for his first PGA Tour victory, finished 36 holes at 12-under-par 130. He missed the tournament's 36-hole scoring record by one stroke.

Defending champion Matt Kuchar carded a 66 to move into a share of second place. He was joined at 8-under 134 by John Merrick (65).

Jim Furyk, the 2010 winner, posted a 7-under 64 at Harbour Town Golf Links to jump into a tie for fourth at minus-7. He stands alongside Kevin Kisner (67) and 2013 winner Graeme McDowell (69).

Masters champion Jordan Spieth fired a 9-under 62 and soared into a share of seventh place at 6-under-par 136. Louis Oosthuizen (67), Kevin Streelman (65), Matt Every (70) and Morgan Hoffmann (68) joined Spieth at minus-6.

"I found something in my ball position on the range, and it made a world of difference. One more nights sleep and just feeling like I had a little something to think about on the course, and that helped me zero in on targets a little better and get into a rhythm," Spieth stated. "I don't want to go home early, and I knew I had to shoot at least 2-under. I got a couple good breaks today, but all in all I played well."

Two-time winner Tom Watson birdied the 18th hole for a 1-under 70, which helped him make the cut on the number at even-par 142. That was his 501st made cut in 617 career PGA Tour starts.

Merritt got off to a relatively slow start with one birdie and five pars in his first six holes. He stuffed his tee shot at the par-3 seventh within two feet and kicked that in for birdie.

After a par at the eighth, Merritt rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at nine to make the turn at 5-under. He made it two in a row with another gain on the 10th.

Merritt birdied the 12th and 13th from 11 and 13 feet out, respectively. He caught fire after making par on No. 14. Merritt rolled in an 18-foot birdie try on the par-5 15th to grab the lead at minus-9.

The 29-year-old birdied the final three holes, all from inside seven feet, to match David Frost's course record.

"I've got a superstition that when I make a birdie I don't take a ball out of a round, and I put the last ball into play on 12 and it got beat up the last seven holes, but I played it all the way in and made six birdies with it," said Merritt. "It was a lot of fun. It was fun to hit quality golf shots and roll the putts in."

Kuchar, who played alongside Spieth, had two birdies and seven pars on his opening nine. On his second nine, Kuchar dropped in back-to-back birdies from the first, and again from the fifth. Kuchar missed the green at the par-3 seventh and that led to a bogey, which dropped him back to minus-8. He parred the last two holes to end there.

Merrick birdied the 10th and 11th to get his round going. After a bogey on No. 12, he drained a 19-footer for birdie at the 15th. Merrick parred the next three before converting birdie chances at the first three holes around the turn.

That burst moved Merrick to 7-under and he remained there as he parred five in a row from the fourth. Merrick converted a 14-footer for birdie on the ninth to join Kuchar in second place.

NOTES: Merritt is trying to join a group of 10 other players that made this event their first PGA Tour win ... The only other time he led after any round on the PGA Tour was after the first round of the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii ... With little wind through the day, Friday's scoring average at 69.641 was the second-lowest in event history ... The cut line fell at even-par 142 with 76 players making it to the weekend ... Among those that missed the cut were Kenny Perry, Graham DeLaet, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Ernie Els.

04/17 19:00:27 ET