McIlroy soars into three-shot lead at the Memorial

Thu May 29, 2014 7:35pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy, making the most of ideal scoring conditions, shrugged off a painful knee to soar three shots clear with a spectacular nine-under-par 63 in Thursday's opening round of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.

The Northern Irish world number six, just four days after winning the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, recorded two eagles on his back nine to seize control of the elite PGA Tour event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

Though McIlroy was troubled by a sore left knee from his seventh hole of the day, he surged up the leaderboard with a brilliant homeward nine of 31 that included a double-bogey at the 14th.

"I obviously played really well from tee to green," McIlroy told Golf Channel after totaling only 22 putts and ending the first round three ahead of Americans Bubba Watson and Chris Kirk, and Englishman Paul Casey at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

"I holed a lot of putts as well, two really good up-and-downs at the last two holes. It could have been even better apart from that double-bogey on 14, but I am really happy."

McIlroy, whose victory last week came just days after he broke up with his tennis-playing fiancé Caroline Wozniacki, drained a 28-foot putt to eagle the par-five 11th, then sank a 15-footer for eagle at the par-five 15th.

His only blemish of the day came at the par-four 14th where he pulled his wedge approach into a horrible lie in a greenside bunker.

Asked what was wrong with his left knee, McIlroy replied: "Honestly I don't know. I felt it on my second shot on (hole) seven today. I think my foot might have just got stuck in the ground a little bit and torqued my knee.

"It was painful right after I hit shots and then I sort of walked it off for the next one and it was okay, and then it would be painful again. I guess I put it out of my mind when I was over the golf shots.   Continued...

 
May 29, 2014; Dublin, OH, USA; Rory McIlroy leaves the course as the leader after completing the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports