Matsuyama masters Memorial again

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama continued his love affair with Muirfield Village as the Japanese young gun shot to the first round lead at the Memorial Tournament.

The 23-year-old put up a bogey-free eight-under-par 64 to hold top spot with American Bo Van Pelt, who got as deep as nine-under before giving a shot back late.

“Up until yesterday I was not hitting the ball very well,” said Matsuyama through an interpreter. “I was not chipping very well. I was not putting very well and I don’t know what happened overnight, but we just caught magic.”

Former PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner (66) held third place with Scotland’s Russell Knox at six-under after he lost his share of the lead with an 18th hole double bogey.

Australia’s best were last-start winner Steven Bowditch, Victorian Marc Leishman and West Australian Greg Chalmers who are at three-under in a tie for 21st.

Local resident and course member Jason Day was below his best and could only muster an even-par 72 while 14-time major winner Tiger Woods did extremely well to climb off the canvas and shoot 73.

The trio of leading Australians all produced their best opening rounds at Muirfield, with Chalmers overcoming a sore back to produce his first round in the 60s at the venue in 14 years.

Bowditch was shaken into action by an early bogey and played solid from then on with four birdies, hopefully bucking his trend of backing up good play with below average performances.

“I definitely felt a bit lazy and not in it mentally when I started with my intensity level not like it was last week but the bogey on the second was nearly good for me in a way as it got me going,” Bowditch said.

“I sort of thought to myself, don’t do this again, don’t let it get away, let’s knuckle down as it is a new week, new golf course and new scenarios.”

Leishman, who averaged 73.3 in opening rounds in his previous six attempts at Jack Nicklaus’ signature course, threatened to go very low when he made the turn at four-under.

But three bogeys in four holes left his charge reeling before a fight back ensured he could still threaten.

Day struggled with the speed of the greens throughout his round and missed multiple birdie opportunities, making just two all day, one from holing a bunker shot.

“Only two birdies wasn’t good enough, I should have had more than that,” Day said.

“I was hitting my lines but my speed was off with my putting, I hit them way too hard, that’s a little unfortunate but I’ll go out and get them tomorrow.”

Woods, a five-time winner of the event, blew out to four-over through nine holes but scratched his way back to just one-over with three birdies in his last eight holes.

Matt Jones and John Senden carded rounds of 71 and Cameron Smith finished with a 74.

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