Hideki Matsuyama of Japan obviously knows his way around Jack Nicklaus’ course at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Matsuyama, who claimed the first of his five PGA Tour victories on the course in 2014, strung together five birdies and an eagle through the 17th hole en route to a 7-under-par 65 and is tied for the lead with Abraham Ancer of Mexico and Joaquin Niemann of Chile after one round of the Memorial Tournament.
“As the round went along, I played better and better,” said Matsuyama (pictured), who has struggled this season, in part because of left thumb injury, and does not have a top-10 finish since a tie for fourth in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January.
“It has been frustrating. In the past, even if I wasn’t playing well, I could still get it around, get it in the hole. So the last couple of months have been trying. I’m just really glad that I was able to play well today and post a good score at the start.”
The 10th-ranked Matsuyama highlighted his round with a 137-yard hole-out for eagle on the 17th hole.
Niemann, who was the No. 1 amateur in the world before turning pro earlier this year and is coming off a tie for eighth in the Fort Worth Invitational, birdied five of his first seven holes in his 65.
Ancer, who claimed his only pro victory in the 2015 Nova Scotia Open on the Web.com Tour, birdied four of his last five holes to gain his share of the lead.
Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita is in solo fourth at 66, while Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe and USC sank a six-foot eagle putt on the seventh hole in a 67 to tie for fifth with Lucas Glover, Kyle Stanley and Grayson Murray.
Eighth-ranked Jason Day of Australia shot 68 and is tied for ninth with Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, Patrick Rodgers of Stanford, Keegan Bradley, Byeong Hun An of South Korea, Wesley Bryan and Ryan Armour.
Third-ranked Justin Rose of England is tied for 29th at 71, while top-ranked Justin Thomas shot 72 and is in a tie for 47th that includes second-ranked Dustin Johnson, seventh-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta and Tiger Woods, who has won the Memorial five times.
Sixth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hit three balls into the water in a 74 and is in a tie for 74th that includes Phil Mickelson, while fifth-ranked Jordan Spieth struggled to a 75 and is in a tie for 85th that includes defending champion Jason Dufner.
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