Dufner, Lingmerth sit atop Memorial Tournament leaderboard

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both are in contention after one round at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. Photo credit: PGA TOUR Twitter

Dublin, OH — Thursday at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, David Lingmerth was 7-for-14 in fairways hit. It did not matter.

Lingmerth, the 2015 Memorial Tournament champion had 10 one putts and posted a 7-under par 65 joining Jason Dufner atop of the leaderboard after one round of play.

“Having won here, it brings back good memories and the other years I’ve always loved it,” he said. “I just like the way the course sets up for me and I feel confident out here.”

Lingmerth came into this week after a tie for 12th place at Dean & DeLuca Invitational, his best finish on the PGA TOUR this season and that transitioned into this week where his 65 ties his low round at Muirfield Village which was set in the second round of the 2015 event.

“I’ve been working hard all year and never really found my groove but I’ve stuck to it and all along I knew this stretch was coming up here,” said Lingmerth. “Colonial last week, I love this week obviously and there’s a few more tournaments here coming soon that I really like.”

Despite trouble hitting the fairways, Lingmerth had figures of 4.390 strokes gained approaching the green which is first in the field and  2.946 strokes gained putting, both of which compensated for his driving troubles.

Most of Lingmerth’s circles on the scorecard came with drives in the rough including three of his five birdie holes on the front nine.

“I managed to get some decent lies out of the ones that I missed the fairway,” Lingmerth said. “I usually rely a lot on my driving, hitting a lot of fairways and that’s the one thing about today I’m kind of disappointed with, so that’s something I’m going to work on.”

This is the first time Lingmerth has either led or co-led the first round of a PGA TOUR event in his 116 career starts.

Dufner came through the afternoon wave of players and hit 17 of 18 greens, relenting on the last hole, which also was his lone bogey of the day. Had Dufner hit the 18th green it would have been his first bogey-free round in his 924 round PGA TOUR career.

He also would have been the fifth player in Memorial Tournament history to hit all 18 green in a round joining Don Pooley, Frank Nobilo, Freddie Jacobson and Rory Sabbatini.

The highlight of Dufner’s round came on the par-5 seventh hole when he stuck his 249 yard approach to 7-feet-3 inches and sank the eagle.

“I like this golf course,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of history here that was memorable before the Presidents Cup. I’ve had a lot of good rounds here but haven’t been able to put it together for four days. Maybe the experience of being here five or six years now helped me out.”

Dufner’s putting has also been aided by using a breathing exercise that helps has become part of his pre-putt routine.

“I’m trying to get control of my breath and get the pace of my stroke the way I want it,” said Dufner. “So that’s been working pretty well. If you read anything about sniper shooters and when they shoot, they’re really focused on their heartbeat and breathing. I’m sure you’ve heard Tiger talk about that.”

Jordan Spieth used birdies on four of his final five holes to get to six under and shoot a round of 66, tying him for third with Daniel Summerhays.

“It was an awesome finish,” Spieth said. “I knew once you get to the front nine, which was our back today, you actually do get quite a few birdie opportunities. We just stayed with the game plan. I felt like I played the way I scored, just needed to finish well to get to that point.”

Summerhays hit 12 of 14 fairways but the highlight came on the par-4 17th when he holed a nearly 50 foot bunker shot. This is Summerhays’s seventh Memorial Tournament and he tied for fourth place in 2012,

“I have a lot of good vibes when I come back to Columbus,” he said. “This is where my professional golf career started down at Scarlet. I finished fourth at Memorial here a few years back, so I’m part Buckeye, I think.”

Justin Thomas played in Spieth’s group and finished a shot behind his friend at 5-under par tying him for fifth place with Lucas Glover.

Thomas has not fared well in either of his three previous visits to the Memorial Tournament tying for 37th in 2014 and missing the cut both in 2015 and 2016.

“I’m playing better,” said Thomas of the difference. “Last year that was probably the worst I’ve ever swung it in my life. The year before I had a bad Friday and a good Thursday. It’s weird. I love the course, it’s a place I really enjoy playing. You can make 10 birdies in a round, but if you’re not playing a good round, it’s a struggle. I enjoy courses like that and my game is in a good spot.”

Glover also was part of the afternoon wave and was one of the first two groups to tee off. He also had no bogeys en route to his 67.

Most of Glover’s damage came on the par-5’s as Glover recorded birdies on each of the four par-5 holes.

“For me, you’ve got to play the 5’s aggressive, be pretty conservative on the par-3’s and got at some pins if you can on the par-4’s,” he said. “That’s my mindset each day here.”

Barnes pleased with his improvement

It has been a year of missed cuts and middle of the pack finishes but after tying for 18th place at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, Barnes came in feeling better about his game.

Barnes also was able to take advantage of having no wind for the first 10 holes and finished at 2-under par after one round of play at the Memorial Tournament.

“I’m just playing better,” he said. “My confidence level is a little up, ball striking was great today. I was in control and had a lot of really good looks early too and just made some solid pars coming in. Overall it’s good to be playing rounds under par, especially here.”

Barnes previously tied for third in this event in 2010 and tied for 18th in 2011. His last two appearances in 2013 and 2016, he missed the cut.

“You reach back to good memories out here,” said Barnes. “The course was in pristine condition and we had fast greens but my game has been trending, usually that’s how we judge weeks and courses. I feel like I am comfortable here and I have been playing better so the trend is better for my game.”

If Sunday’s projected rain can hold off enough, Barnes plans to sectional qualify for the U.S. Open Monday in Columbus playing at Brookside Golf & Country Club and Lakes Golf & Country Club.

Of note

J.J. Spaun pulled out after nine holes with rib pain… There were 34 rounds under par… Lucas Glover and Matt Kuchar were the lone two bogey-free rounds on the day… The course played to an average score of 73.319. The morning wave shot 73.02, while the afternoon wave went at a 73.62 clip.

Memorial Tournament Round One Leaderboard

T1. David Lingmerth -7

T1. Jason Dufner -7

T3. Daniel Summerhays -6

T3. Jordan Spieth -6

T5. Justin Thomas -5

T5. Lucas Glover -5

T7. Byeong Hun An -4

T7. Sam Saunders -4

T9. Jamie Lovemark -3

T9. Nick Taylor -3

T9. Matt Kuchar -3

T9. Brooks Koepka -3

Round of the day

As expected, Dustin Johnson made waves on the leaderboard but it was not because he landed on the first page. Johnson is tied for 109th place at +6 and did not record any birdies for the first time since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a span of 3 years and 10 months (1,400 days) . According to a tweet from Golf Channel’s Justin Ray, this was Johnson’s worst worldwide score in 452 days, when he shot a 79 in the WGC Cadillac Championship.

Shots of the day

In addition to the Summerhays shot, Jamie Lovemark hit his third shot on the par-4 from the rough into the cut from 41 feet and 10 inches out for birdie to finish at 3-under par.

“I hit it into the rough, tired to get too cute with the second shot and I came a little short,” Lovemark said. “I had an easy chip up the hill, it went in which was a bonus.”

Rickie Fowler made a late bid for shot of the day with this hole out from the bunker on the 18th hole.

This gave Fowler eight birdies on the round which tied Summerhays, Lingmerth and Spieth for highest while also assisting him to a 2-under-par finish.

“Nice to get a bonus on the last for sure,” said Fowler.

He said it

“These guys are pretty good. It was pretty good scoring in perfect conditions. The guys are going to make putts on perfect greens and if you get a guy pretty sharp with his irons, you’ll make a bunch of birdie putts and going to make a bunch.” Lucas Glover on if he was surprised at the lead being 7-under-par after one round of play.

“It was pretty neat. Playing with those two guys, they were kind of the main attraction. I did hear several times, ‘Who’s that? That’s the defending champion.’ It was kind of neat.” – Memorial Tournament William McGirt after shooting a 1-under par 71.

Author: Jhavelka

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