Rory McIlroy recovers from poor start at Memorial Tournament

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy stages fine recovery at the Memorial Tournament

Rory McIlroy recovered from a terrible start in the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, Ohio to card a one-under 71.

The Northern Irishman shot a quadruple-bogey seven on the 12th - his third hole, having started on the 10th.

But four birdies and an eagle on the fifth moved McIlroy to one under - five behind the leader Scott Stallings.

World number one Luke Donald also shot a 71, Tiger Woods carded a 70 while Phil Mickelson withdrew after a 79.

Americans Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, who is playing his first tournament since recovering from a back injury, shot 71 to tie for 20th.

Masters champion Bubba Watson, who is playing in only his second tournament since his triumph at Augusta, hit one birdie on the front nine but followed that up with four bogeys on the back nine for a three-over par 75.

McIlroy, who defends his US Open title next month, will have been determined to put in a good performance following two consecutive missed cuts at the The Players Championship and the BMW PGA Championship.

The world number two made par in his first two holes before sending his tee shot into the bunker behind the green on the par-three 12th.

McIlroy's next shot sailed into a pond for a penalty stroke before his fourth landed in a bunker. After reaching the green, he then two-putted from 15 feet.

It was a demoralising start to the round but the 23-year-old recovered well, making birdies on the 14th and 15th.

He dropped a shot on the 17th but a birdie and an eagle coming home meant the danger of a third consecutive missed cut receded.

"It wasn't the start that I wanted to get off to, being four over through three holes, especially after the last few weeks," said McIlroy.

"I was just like, 'Here we go again'. But I hung in there well, and I'm proud of myself for the way I fought back. To finish the round under par I thought was a really good effort."

Woods, who has won the tournament four times before, shot a double-bogey six on the 18th - his ninth - but that was the only blemish on his scorecard as four birdies saw him back in the clubhouse on two under.

"It certainly could have been a lot lower, but I'm pleased with the way I hit the golf ball," he said. "I didn't do anything great and I didn't do anything poorly."

Donald, winner of the BMW PGA Championship last time out, also ran up a double bogey on the 18th but three birdies in his round keeps him in contention.

"There are some tougher pins out there and overall I'll take one under and try to play better the next three days," said the Englishman.

Mickelson, who shot a seven-over 79, cited fatigue for his withdrawal having played three consecutive events on the PGA Tour before heading to Europe to celebrate his wife Amy's 40th birthday.

"I think mentally I'm a little bit fatigued," Mickelson said. "The course here is in such great shape. It's a beautiful way to get ready for the US Open.

"But I'm hitting it so poorly. I have to look at what's best for me to play in the US Open, and I'm going to take the next few days to kind of rest up."

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