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McIlroy Goes Low at Memorial


Despite a balky knee and a double-bogey, Rory McIlroy got out of the box fast in the opening round of the Memorial. The 25-year-old Northern Irishman fired a 9-under 63 for a three-stroke lead in the $6.2 million PGA Tour event that began Thursday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

After carding four birdies on the front nine to make the turn in 4-under 32, McIlroy tacked on three more birdies, two eagles - on the par-5s at Nos. 11 and 15, and the double on the par-4 14th to come home with a 31.

In a much-publicized move, McIlroy broke up his engagement with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki last week before the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship - which he won after overcoming a seven-stroke deficit entering the final round for his first title since the Australian Open in December.

On Thursday, the two-time major winner didn't miss a beat, although it appeared as if he might not even finish the first round after coming up lame on the seventh hole - which he birdied.

"I felt I tweaked it on my second shot on the seventh," McIlroy said during a TV interview. "I got to go get some treatment. I sort of walked it off. I guess some ice and treatment and I'll be okay tomorrow.

"The knee - I'm not sure where it's come from. I've never really had it before. I put it out of my mind . . . I just pretended like it wasn't there. I sort of walked it off." As for his 63, he added, "I made a hell of a lot of putts. Really happy, and it was obviously a really good round."

Trailing by three are England's Paul Casey and Americans Chris Kirk and Bubba Watson. Watson, the 2014 Masters champion, birdied six of his first 13 holes before adding an eagle on the 15th. But the 35-year-old couldn't keep up the pace, closing with two bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes.

Four behind McIlroy are Keegan Bradley, Michael Thompson and J.B. Holmes. Five back after 18 holes are Hunter Mahan, Ryan Moore and Justin Leonard. Bradley, who became the first player to win a major using an anchored putter when he won the 2011 PGA Championship, used a regular, 41-inch non-anchored putter Thursday.

"I thought I needed something to get me excited about playing because I was bummed," Bradley told reporters. He said his mom suggested he go to a shorter putter. "I'm totally in a trial period here. I'm not in any way saying I'm switching for good from now on."

Sharing 11th after 69s are Ohio's Ben Curtis, Mark Wilson, Martin Flores, Kevin Kisner, Aaron Baddeley, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Charles Howell III, Nick Watney and Charley Hoffman.

Scott, the No. 1-ranked player in the world and winner of last week's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Texas, carded six birdies, a bogey and a double on the par-4 ninth hole.

Fourth-ranked Matt Kuchar, the defending Memorial champion, got off to a rocky start with a 2-over 74 that included five birdies, three bogeys and two doubles on the back nine.

Phil Mickelson shot an even-par 72. The 42-time PGA Tour winner has yet to get a victory in the tournament.

Five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods is not playing this week as he's still in rehabilitation following back surgery March 31.

For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.