Dublin - Hideki Matsuyama holed out for an eagle at the 17th
as he surged into three-way tie for the first-round lead alongside Abraham
Ancer and Joaquin Niemann at the Memorial on Thursday.
The trio were tied on seven-under par 65 in the Jack
Nicklaus-hosted event at Muirfield Village.
Matsuyama, winner of the event on his debut in 2014, fought
back from back-to-back bogeys at the 10th and 11th with a run of four straight
birdies starting at the 13th.
He punctuated his blistering run by holing his 136-yard
second shot at the par-four 17th for an eagle two.
Five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods also finished strong,
fighting back from four-over through seven holes to post an even par 72.
Woods, who insisted a "stiff" back that bothered
him in the early going was nothing to worry about as he continues his comeback
from back surgery, birdied three in a row on his inward run.
"I just have days like that," a smiling Woods said
of his back. "It's aging and it's surgeries. It is what it is. Just got to
make the adjustments. I'm able to make them now.
"At the beginning of the year, I wasn't able to make
them, because I didn't really know what to do yet. But now you see me making
these adjustments on the fly."
Woods played early, as did Mexico's Ancer and 19-year-old
Chilean sensation Niemann, both notching eight birdies with one bogey to reach
Niemann is contesting just his fourth PGA Tour event since
turning pro immediately after last month's Masters. He finished tied for eighth
last week in Fort Worth, a second top-10 finish after his share of sixth in the
Texas Open as he tries to use the seven tournament invitations at his disposal
to secure his tour status.
"After having played in four tournaments and I have
been playing really well," he said. "And after those two top-10s, I
have gained a lot of confidence in my game and I'm also feeling better and I
feel able to be out here and play good golf."
American Beau Hossler was alone in fourth on 66 while four
others, including former US Open champion Lucas Glover shared fifth on 67.
World number one Justin Thomas and the player he supplanted
atop the rankings, Dustin Johnson, were at even par.
Former world number one Rory Mcllroy struggled, sending two
balls into the water over his closing five holes in an indifferent two-over par
McIlroy, and coming off a runner-up finish at the BMW PGA at
Wentworth, was one-under par standing on the 14th but found water left with his
drive and with his second shot down the last.
Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the US PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament (USA unless noted, par 72):
65 - Abraham Ancer (MEX), Joaquin Niemann (CHI), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)
66 - Beau Hossler
67 - Jamie Lovemark, Grayson Murray, Kyle Stanley, Lucas Glover
68 - An Byeong-hun An (KOR), Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Rogers, Wesley Bryan, Ryan Amour, Jason Day (AUS), Keegan Bradley
69 - Peter Uihlein, Gary Woodland, Brian Gay, David Lingmerth (SWE), Bryson DeChambeau, Alex Cejka (GER), Branden Grace (RSA), Andrew Dorn
70 - Bill Haas, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, JB Holmes