Jack Nicklaus' Memorial 2014: Rory McIlroy continues resurgence with three-shot lead after opening day to build on BMW PGA Championship success - Golf - Sport - The Independent

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

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.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years