Third-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
The 28-year-old Smith, who has won the Players Championship and Sony TOC this season, carded a 5-under-par 67 to tie for the lead with K.H. Lee of South Korea, Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, Luke List, and rookies Cameron Young and Davis Riley after one round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
“It was a little bit of a grind, actually,” said Smith (pictured), who also tied for third in the Masters among his five finishes in the top 10 this season. “I had to make a few good pars on that last nine for me, the front nine. It was just good to kind of hang in there, make a few birdies, see a few putts going in. I think this is about as easy as this place is going to get today. I think it’s going to be a lot of stressful golf and a lot of grinding over the weekend.
“My game feels really good and has felt pretty good all season. I just need to stay on top of a few things. I think just really stay on top of my driver because my irons feel really good. I just need to keep hitting fairways and keep on contending.”
Smith, who has won five times on the PGA Tour and seven times as a pro, started at No. 10 and made birdies on three of the first six holes including a 34-foot hole-out on the 13th before sinking a 28-foot birdie putt on the first and making up for two bogeys with three more birdies that included an 18-foot putt at No. 9.
Lee, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson recently, holed his second shot from 152 yards for an eagle on the ninth hole in his 67; List, who won the Farmers in February, birdied three of the last five holes; Hughes birdied three of the last four; Riley sank a 17-foot eagle putt at No. 15, and Young made a 15-footer for eagle on the same hole before adding added a 30-footer for birdie to end his day at No. 9.
“I think we knew what was possible, but I think I’ve also gotten a lot better throughout this season,” said Young, a two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour last year who has tied for second three times this season on the PGA Tour without winning. “And having done well makes it a lot easier. If I was really fighting to keep my card for next year, I think it gets a lot harder. To have been around the lead and then finish high a few times, I think just that comfort level has gone up and I’ve been able to keep going.
“I just hit a bunch of good shots early in my round today and made kind of the crucial little saves to kind of keep that momentum going with some pars. The eagle in the middle was obviously a nice little bonus.”
Will Zalatoris, the 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year who tied for second in the PGA Championship last month, collected eight birdies in a 68 and is tied for seventh with rookie Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, who holed out from 125 yards for an eagle at No. 13, Denny McCarthy, who had three birdies on the back nine, and Wyndham Clark, who made four birdies on the front.
Eighth-seeded Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shot 70 and is in a tie for 21st that includes 10th-ranked Jordan Spieth and 11th-ranked Xander Schauffele, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist from La Jolla and San Diego State.
Fourth-ranked Collin Morikawa finished at 71 and is in a tie for 34th that includes seventh-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, while second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain wound up at 72 in and is a tie for 48th that includes sixth-ranked Patrick Cantlay, the defending champion, of Los Alamitos and UCLA.
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, the 2021 Masters champion who is ranked 12th and won the 2014 Memorial, was disqualified when officials determined he had too much paint that he was using for alignment on the face of his 3-wood. He was 3-over after nine holes when he left the course.
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