Thursday, 2 June 2011
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland co-leads The Memorial Golf Tournament at Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio, and Of the top 21 players on the leaderboard, is the only international player.
The Northern Ireland native shot the low round of the afternoon tee times with a 6-under-par 66. McIlroy has now played five stroke-events in the United States in 2011. His first-round scoring average in these five events is 69.4.
McIlroy finished T10 in 2010 in his only previous appearance at The Memorial.
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McIlroy has led or shared the first-round lead in two previous PGA TOUR events, both major championships (2011 Masters – finished T15, 2010 British Open – finished T3).
Following this event, McIlroy will be going to Haiti on a tour with UNICEF for charity work for a few days before heading to Congressional to prepare for the U.S. Open. McIlroy joined UNICEF as an ambassador in 2011.
“You want to associate yourself with a charity that you feel close to, and UNICEF works with mainly children charities, and I feel like I'm the sort of age that I can relate to the younger people. I don't just want to really put my name to it. I wanted to do something, and they were very keen for me to go and see where they're sort of hands on and they're working with,” McIlroy said in his post-round press conference.
Riley is looking for his first top-10 finish since opening the season at the Sony Open in Hawaii with a T9. Riley has 13 rounds under par in 2011, seven of them have come in the first round. Riley ranks 24th in first-round scoring average this year with a 70.23 average, but ranks 162nd, 130th and 158th in 2nd, 3rd and 4th round scoring average, respectively.
Riley, making his first start at the Memorial since 2002, has yet to make a cut at the Memorial in three previous tries and Thursday’s round of 66 was the first time in seven attempts that he has broken par.
The last time Riley held or shared a first-round lead was the 2006 PGA Championship. The last time Riley led following any round on the PGA TOUR was the third round of the 2009 Wyndham Championship.
Riley, who won the Reno-Tahoe Open in 2002, had consistent success on the PGA TOUR from 1999-2004, including 2003 when he finished in the top-10 seven times. During that stretch from 1999-2004 (166 events), Riley compiled 26 top-10s. Since the end of the 2004 season, Riley has played in 145 events and has a total of seven top-10 finishes.
Teater, 32, is searching for his first top-10 finish in 2011. Teater has recently had success getting off to a good start. Including Thursday’s opening round 67, Teater has now shot in the 60s in the first round of six of his last seven tournaments and eight of his last 11. Teater missed the cut last year in his only previous appearance at The Memorial.
Making his 10th appearance at The Memorial, DiMarco’s opening-round 67 marks the first time DiMarco has shot an opening round in the 60s.
The 67 matches DiMarco’s best opening round of the year. He also shot 67 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Stricker recorded consecutive birdies on holes 7, 8, 9 and 10 en route to an opening round 68. Stricker leads the TOUR in consecutive cuts made at 32, dating back to the 2009 PGA Championship. Stricker has not finished outside the top 33 in any of the nine events that he has played this year and has finished T18 or better seven times in 2011.
Stricker has missed the cut at The Memorial just once in 11 previous appearances, but has never finished in the top 10 at the event. His opening round of 68 is the third time that he has shot an opening round in the 60s and matches his lowest score ever at Muirfield Village Golf Club (also shot 68 in round 3 in 1998). The 68 is the fifth time that Stricker has shot in the 60s in 42 rounds at The Memorial Tournament.
Fowler recorded birdies on holes 12, 13, 14 and then eagled No. 15 from 133 yards away with a 9-iron. Fowler was one of three players tied for the first-round lead last year and eventually finished second to Justin Rose.
In the past 23 years only three golfers in their 20s have won the Memorial Tournament (Tiger Woods-3 times, Carl Pettersson and defending champion Justin Rose.
Fowler has started well at several tournaments this year, including an opening-round 63 at his last event, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Fowler has opened a tournament in the top 4 on the leaderboard three previous times in 2011. He has not finished inside the top 15 in any of those events.
Barnes, who finished T3 at last year’s Memorial, started off well again this year with a 4-under-par 68. His third-place finish in 2010 is his second-best finish on the PGA TOUR, second only to his runner-up at the 2009 U.S. Open.
Luke Donald 70 (-2)
Donald, ranked No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, defeated Lee Westwood in a playoff at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship last week to take over the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Donald, who started his round on the 10th hole, made the turn at 2-over and was in danger of snapping his streak of 21 consecutive rounds of par or better on the PGA TOUR. Thru 13 holes, Donald was 2-over-par, but consecutive birdies on holes 5-8 helped him finish the day at 2-under-par.
Hunter Mahan 69 (-3)
Hunter Mahan’s up and down opening round included five pars, five bogeys and eight birdies. Thursday’s round is the first time in five attempts that Mahan has opened the tournament by breaking par at the Memorial.
Mahan is tied for the lead on the PGA TOUR with seven top-10 finishes in 2011. The seven top-10s are already the most Mahan has recorded in a single season on the PGA TOUR.
Mahan is trying to make it two wins in a row in the state of Ohio after last year’s victory at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim and Sean O’Hair are the only four U.S. golfers in their 20s with three or more PGA TOUR victories.
Rocco Mediate’s opening-round 68 is his best opening-round score at the Memorial in his 19th time playing the event. Mediate is making his 20th start at The Memorial and is looking for his second top-10 finish at the event (T6-2008).
First-Round Leader Stats
Ernie Els (2004) and Justin Rose (2010) are the only players to win the Memorial after holding the first-round lead/co-lead. There has never been a wire-to-wire winner at the Memorial.
The first-round leader/co-leader has won four of 21 stroke-play events this season (Jonathan Byrd – Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Aaron Baddeley – Northern Trust Open, Bubba Watson – Zurich Classic of New Orleans, David Toms – Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial).
Miscellaneous Golf Stats
Before this year’s event, the par 3 16th hole went through some design changes. The 16th hole, what was once an innocuous par 3, has now been made more dramatic with the addition of a pond to guard the re-positioned green to the left. Nicklaus made the change to strengthen the hole, which now plays about 14 yards shorter at 200.
"I think that one of the things that really sort of pushed 16 was probably The Presidents Cup to some degree," Nicklaus said. "The reason for that is that when you go to match play, many matches finish around the 16th, 17th hole, and that area right there is obviously where things come together, and I didn’t like to see those matches finish on a weakish hole."
In the first round, the 16th hole played as the second-most difficult hole on the course with an average score of 3.314.
On the PGA TOUR in 2010, the most difficult par 3 was the 17th hole at Pebble Beach during the U.S. Open which played to an average of 3.487.
On Thursday, the new design of 16 in addition to the finishing two holes combined for what could prove to be the most difficult finishing stretch and has a chance to be the toughest overall three-hole stretch the PGA TOUR has seen this year.
The final three holes played to a total score of +.983 in relation to par (RTP). In 2011, the toughest three-hole stretch so far is 15,16 and17 at PGA National Champion Course which finished at +1.178. In 2010, the toughest over and finishing 3-hole stretch was 16, 17 and 18 at 1.009. The most difficult finishing three-hole stretch this year was also at PGA National with the 16, 17 and 18 stretch playing at 0.785.
Seven of the top 10 players in the current FedExCup standings are playing the Memorial this week.
Strokes Gained-Putting, recently introduced as a new statistic on the PGA TOUR, takes into account putting proficiency from various distances and computes the difference between a player’s performance on every green – the number of strokes needed to hole out – against the performance of the other players for each round. Putting was a key factor for Rocco Mediate's 4-under-par 68 as he finished first in Strokes Gained – Putting during the first round at 4.880. Mediate entered the year 180th on TOUR in the category at -.786. Greg Chalmers leads the TOUR in Strokes Gained -- Putting at 1.000 stroke per round.
The TOUR has had seven consecutive events decided in a playoff or by one stroke (dating to the Valero Texas Open). That is the longest streak since a seven-event stretch between the 2009 Honda Classic and Masters Tournament.
Eight past champions are competing this week in Dublin: Justin Rose, Kenny Perry, K.J. Choi, Carl Pettersson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples and Vijay Singh.
The last player to record four rounds in the 60s at the Memorial was Bart Bryant on his way to victory in 2005 (69-69-66-68). Four rounds in the 60s has only been accomplished eight times in Memorial Tournament history, with Fred Couples (1998 and 2004) the only player to do it twice. The others are Hal Sutton (1986), Paul Azinger (1993), Tom Lehman (1994), Steve Elkington (1995) and Tiger Woods (2001). Only Elkington and Couples, in 2004, didn’t win the tournament.
The Memorial Tournament has the longest active playoff drought on the PGA TOUR. The last playoff at the Memorial was in 1992 when David Edwards defeated Rick Fehr with a par on the second extra hole.
Four of the eight first-time winners in 2011 have been rookies: Jhonattan Vegas (Bob Hope Classic), Charl Schwartzel (Masters Tournament), Brendan Steele (Valero Texas Open) and Keegan Bradley (HP Byron Nelson Championship). The record for most rookies winning in a season since 1970 is five in 2004: Todd Hamilton, Zach Johnson, Vaughn Taylor, Andre Stoltz and Ryan Palmer.
Morning Scoring Average (72.66) vs. Afternoon Scoring Average (72.43).
Derek Lamely withdrew during the first round citing an injured wrist. Nick Watney withdrew prior to the start of round 1 citing illness. Watney was replaced in the field by Kevin Stadler.
Joost Luiten was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard after a post-round discussion with PGA TOUR Rules Officials determined he should have been assessed a penalty on No. 11 for violation of Rule 18-2b (ball at rest moves after address), and then an additional penalty for violation of Rule 20-7b (playing from a wrong place). His correct score should have been 78, but Luiten signed for a 76. Luiten was unaware he had addressed the ball, as he had not grounded his club -- in a lateral water hazard the player is considered to have addressed the ball after taking a stance.
Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, OH, June 2-5, 2011 - FedExCup Points: 500 to the winner; Par/Yardage: 36-36—72/7,352; Purse: $6,200,000 ($1,116,000)
Weather: Sunny and pleasant. High of 76. Winds N 5-10 mph.
First-Round Golf Leaderboard:-
Chris Riley 66 (-6)
Rory McIlroy 66 (-6)
Chris DiMarco 67 (-5)
Josh Teater 67 (-5)
Rickie Fowler 68 (-4)
Steve Stricker 68 (-4)
Rocco Mediate 68 (-4)
Matt Bettencourt 68 (-4)
Ricky Barnes 68 (-4)
Dustin Johnson 68 (-4)
Stewart Cink 68 (-4)
Bryce Molder 68 (-4)
Scott Stallings 68 (-4)