Dublin - Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama was pleasantly surprised to
find himself sharing the first-round lead of the Memorial on Thursday, while
the surprises for five-time winner Tiger Woods were less welcome.
Matsuyama had eight birdies without a blemish on his card to share the
first-round lead in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted US PGA Tour event with American Bo
Van Pelt on eight-under par 64.
Van Pelt had 10 birdies and a clutch par save from a bunker at 18 for his
slice of the lead.
They had a two-shot lead over Scotland's Russell Knox and Jason Dufner, who
shared third on 66, with another seven players tied on 67.
Masters champion Jordan Spieth headed a group of nine on 68 that also
included major winners Justin Rose of England and Keegan Bradley.
But Woods, the 14-time major champion who has plunged to 172nd in the world
rankings, wasn't in the mix after scrambling to a 73.
Only a late-round rally saw the former world number one - seeking his first
victory since August of 2013 - salvage a one-over round after he played his
first nine holes in four-over -- with four bogeys and a double-bogey along with
"I didn't play very good today at all. I didn't have much with my
game," said Woods, who battled back with three birdies on his second nine.
"But I fought hard, I fought hard to get back. And to get it back on a
golf course like that, it was pretty good work."
While Woods struggled with a two-way miss, Matsuyama was delighted to find
himself playing better than his practice had led him to expect.
"To be honest with you, up until yesterday I was not hitting the ball
very well, I was not chipping very well, I was not putting very well,"
said Matsuyama, who is trying to join Woods as players to successfully defend a
Memorial title. "And I don't know what happened overnight. We just caught
Matsuyama's eight birdies included four in a row at the 11th, 12th, 13th and
For Van Pelt, who grew up just across the state line in Indiana, leading the
Memorial was a dream.
It wasn't as easy as 10 birdies might have made it look, however.
"This course is never easy, but I had good speed with the putter,"
he said. "Making (birdies at) all four par-fives helped. I think three of
them I was on the green in two. The other one I was just off.
"Anytime you can do that, it's a big help," he added.
Former US PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner was tied for the lead heading
to 18 but found water off the tee and finished with a bogey.
Jason Dufner was at eight-under heading to the 18th but found water off the
tee. That led to a double-bogey that dropped him into the tie for second with
Knox, who bogeyed his final hole, the ninth.
Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the US PGA Tour $6.2 million Memorial tournament (USA unless noted, par-72):
64 - Bo Van Pelt, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)
66 - Jason Dufner, Russell Knox (SCO)
67 - Ken Duke, Ryan Moore, Brendon Todd, Harris English, Kevin Kisner, David Lingmerth (SWE), Kyle Reifers
- Brian Stuard, Francesco Molinari (ITA), Pat Perez, Keegan Bradley,
Justin Rose (ENG), Jordan Spieth, Lucas Glover, Erik Compton, Jonathan
69 - Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), Justin Thomas, Greg
Chalmers (AUS), Patrick Rodgers, Thomas Aiken (RSA), Marc Leishman
(AUS), Graham DeLaet (CAN), Steven Bowditch (AUS), Chris Kirk, Steve
Stricker, Jim Furyk