McIlroy A Long Way From A Nicklaus Handsake Following Memorial Opening 75.

Rory McIlroy has much work to do if he’s to be greeted late on Sunday by tournament host, Jack Nicklaus after posting a horror 75 on the opening day of the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio.

McIlroy managed just two birdies but sadly soured his round with a pair of double-bogeys and a bogey.

The effort saw the World No. 6 head to the Muirfield Village clubhouse then sharing a lowly 68th place but within an hour slumping to outside the top-100 and a massive 10 shots behind American Ryan Moore.

Moore, 36 is a five-time Tour winner and looking to end a near three-year winless drought and capped his round with four birdies in succession from his fourth hole.

McIlroy was grouped in the star three-ball of fellow Major winners Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, and with Spieth shooting a ‘return to form’ 66 that included moving to tie Moore with an eagle on his 14th but only to bogey his 17th.

It is a third event running the Dallas-born Spieth has began to show the form that’s earned him three Majors.

“To shoot six-under around Jack’s place I think I have bested that once in my life, so I am very pleased,” said Spieth.

“I managed to hit 12 of 14 fairways that a soft and while the fairways are a little wider here, you just can’t miss them.

“The key was I lined-up on some straighter lines and played tighter curves rather than what I have been doing and that has been lining-up on the edges of the fairways and try to curve them all the way back.

“So, that was good strategy today.”

Five-time Memorial winner, Tiger Woods finished birdie, bogey, birdie and birdie in a round of 70 to head to lunch just outside the top-10.

“My round was really, really close and I was just a couple of yards away from maybe being five or six under,” he said.

“So, it could have easily flipped and I could have got a few more birdies out of my round.”

McIlroy is making an eighth appearance in the event hosted by legendary Jack Nicklaus but his opening day effort in the Euro 8.2m continues a Memorial trend where McIlroy has thrown-in a big score at least once over the four rounds.

McIlroy shot a 79 on day two to miss the cut in 2012, a 78 on day one in 2013, and also a 78 on day four in 2014 while there was his first round 74 a year ago on route to a share of eighth.

In fairness, McIlroy has thrown in a couple of low one’s including a first round 63 in 2015 and a third day 64 a year ago.

Though any thoughts of replicating those two rounds was spoilt again by the shortest club in McIlroy’s bag and handing the 30-year old the headache of 36 putts.

And the longest club wasn’t all that hot either with McIlroy hitting nine of 14 fairways.

McIlroy got his round off to a positive start in holing a 10-footer for birdie at the par-4 10th before it began turning pear-shaped with a poor drive left into trees at his sixth hole from where he could only chip out sideways.

When McIlroy finally found the green, he three-putted from less than 10-feet.

A bogey at his eight dropped McIlroy to two-over and then slumped to four-over at his 11th or the second hole on the card where McIlroy found trees right and again had to chip-out sideways.

Unfortunately, McIlroy’s ‘recovery’ shot crossed the fairway into rough ahead of finding the green in three but three-putting from 17-feet.

There was just a second birdie at his 13th in getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker for a ‘4’ and ending his day with four pars.

And as if to sum-up McIlroy’s day, he looked at Spieth somewhat sarcastically when his 19-foot birdie putt at his 18th just missed the hole.



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