Rory McIlroy, riding the wave of his victory last week in the BMW PGA Championship, shot 9-under-par 63 to take a three-stroke lead over Bubba Watson, Paul Casey of England and Chris Kirk after the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin Ohio.
McIlroy, who tweaked his left knee on the seventh hole, sank eagle putts of 27 feet on the 11th hole and 15 feet on the 15th, and added seven birdies to overcome a double-bogey 6 at No. 14.
“I felt it on my second shot at the seventh,” McIlroy said of the knee injury. “My foot might have just got stuck in the ground there. I put it out of my mind when I was over the golf shots. It was painful after I hit shots, then I walked it off in between. With a little bit of ice and some treatment, hopefully it will be all right tomorrow.
“I played really well from tee to green and holed lot of putts. I could have been even better apart from that double bogey. But I am really happy; it was a really good opening round..”
Watson, playing his best golf since winning the Masters for the second time in April, also eagled No. 15 with a six-foot putt and birdied four of his last five holes while finishing his 66 on the front nine.
Casey, battling back after several injury-plagued years, holed an eagle putt on the seventh hole and had three birdies in four holes through No. 17, while Kirk, who has two PGA Tour victories, recorded four his of his seven birdies on the front nine in his 66.
Keegan Bradley, playing with a regulation putter for the first time on the PGA Tour on the advice of his mother, carded a bogey-free 67 and was tied for fourth with Michael Thompson and J.B. Holmes, who recently captured the Wells Fargo Championship.
Adam Scott, who solidified his No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings by winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week, was tied for 11th with a 69, while Phil Mickelson, looking for his first top-10 finish of the season, finished bogey-double bogey-double bogey and slid to a tie for 45th with a 72.