Jack Nicklaus' Memorial 2014: Rory McIlroy continues resurgence with three-shot lead after opening day to build on BMW PGA Championship success
McIlroy won his first tournament since ending his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and has continued his impressive form with a nine-under opening round of 63
Friday 30 May 2014
Rory McIlroy picked up seven birdies and two eagles to storm to the top of the leaderboard on the first day of Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
But the Northern Irishman, who won the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, might have been five strokes clear of the field had he not spoiled his remarkable run over the back nine with a double bogey on the par-four 14th hole.
He rallied to card an impressive nine-under 63, while England's Paul Casey shot a six-under 66 earlier on Thursday to take a share of second place with Americans Bubba Watson and Chris Kirk.
McIlroy put the distress caused by his publicised break-up with Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki to one side last weekend to clinch a surprise victory at Wentworth and that winning momentum followed him to Muirfield Village.
Birdies on the second, fourth and seventh holes followed a run of two birdies and an eagle over the turn before he picked up a sixth shot on 13.
At eight under he was two strokes clear of the three men who had already carded 66, but briefly joined Casey and the American duo in a tie for the lead after finding the rear bunker on 14 and needing a total of six shots to hole out.
McIlroy remedied that situation immediately by draining a 15-foot putt to claim his second eagle of the day before adding one final birdie on the 16th.
Casey, currently 97th in the official world rankings, started with a bogey but reached the turn four under having drained an eagle on the par-five seventh.
He mixed three more birdies with a bogey between 14 and 17 while Kirk's seven birdies and a bogey kept him in sight of the lead.
Reigning Masters champion Watson might well have finished on eight under but dropped shots on 16 and 17.
Completing the formative top 10 are Keegan Bradley, Michael Thompson, JB Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Ryan Moore and Justin Leonard.
Most notable in the group of Americans was Bradley, who registered a bogey-free five-under 67 - recording only 27 putts - after making the switch from his favoured anchored putter to a non-anchored flatstick.
There were modest performances from 20-year-old hopeful Jordan Spieth, who signed for 69 after mixing five birdies with two bogeys, and Adam Scott.
The Australian's run of five birdies and a bogey across seven holes on the front nine was sullied by a double bogey on the ninth and, like Spieth, he lies six strokes off the early pace set by McIlroy.
Latest in Sport
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United? 'My next move will be a surprise' says PSG striker
Javier Hernandez to Tottenham: Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino rejects reports over move for Manchester United striker
John Stones transfer latest: Manchester United interest could bump Chelsea bid up to £34m as Everton hold out for asking price
Mario Balotelli told he has no future at Liverpool as striker trains away from first-team
Ashes 2015 live: Latest score as England claim eight-wicket victory to take a 2-1 series lead over Australia after crushing win
- 1 Free porn websites could be shut down within months, says David Cameron
- 2 Stuart Baggs dies: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 3 Whoopi Goldberg tells Cara Delevingne to suck it up: 'She's not famous. I'M famous'
- 4 1000 people played Foo Fighters simultaneously to try and get them to play their city
- 5 Every club should be like Labour – you can’t join as a new member unless you’re already a member
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'