• Memorial Tournament, Round One

Woods and McIlroy bounce back after early disasters

ESPN staff
May 31, 2012 « Watch TUF Finale prelims - Live | Chartbeat test »

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Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both made encouraging starts to the Memorial Tournament after overcoming a couple of horror holes on Thursday.

Woods, looking for an upturn in form ahead of the US Open after some underwhelming displays since his victory at Bay Hill in March, suffered a double-bogey at his ninth hole of the day that threatened to derail his round, before coming back strongly to finish at two-under after a round of 70.

McIlroy, meanwhile, racked up a quadruple bogey seven at the par-three 12th, but fought back impressively to finish just under-par at one-under - the same score as playing partner and world No. 1 Luke Donald.

It was a generally encouraging day for Woods, who began his round on the 10th and made pars on the first five holes before reaching two-under par heading to the 18th after birdies at the 15th and 17th.

The 18th, however, would see his major stumble of the day - as he missed the fairway, missed the green, chipped into a bunker and then failed to get up-and-down as he successfully ruined his prior hard work.

However, that did not disrupt him heading into the second half of his round, as he added two birdies and seven pars to record a two-under par round on a day where few players found scoring easy at Muirfield Village.

"Overall it was a solid day," Woods said. "I didn't do anything awfully well, and I didn't do anything awfully badly either. It was just a consistent round of golf."

One player who did come across birdies with regularity was McIlroy, but that was only after the Northern Irishman had made life difficult for himself with a seven at the short 12th (his third).

McIlroy, coming into this tournament on the back of two missed cuts, found a back bunker with his tee-shot and then splashed out into the water - forcing him back to the drop zone for his fourth shot. From there he found the bunker again (this time at the front of the green), before missing a seven-footer to compile the horror score.

That put him four-over briefly, but he was back to two-under within three holes before another mistake at the 17th pushed him back down the leaderboard. But his front nine was exceptional, as two birdies and an eagle at the par-five fifth helped him back to one-under for the tournament.

"Very happy with how I came back after that start today!" McIlroy said on Twitter. "Finishing under par was a bonus. Now for another afternoon on the range!"

Playing alongside McIlroy was Donald, who reclaimed the world No. 1 spot with victory at Wentworth last week. The Englishman also double-bogeyed the 18th to disturb a run of eight straight pars, but three birdies and six more pars on the return nine kept him firmly in the hunt in Ohio.

The early lead was shared by Andres Romero, Blake Adams and Adam Baddeley at three-under, before Spencer Levin and Erik Compton leapfrogged past them with impressive five-under par rounds of 67.

Not to be outdone, Scott Stallings then birdied three of his final four holes to snatch the lead on his own at six-under.

The news was not as good for Masters champion Bubba Watson, however, as he slumped to a round of 75 that left him with work to do at three-over. At least he fared better than Phil Mickelson, however, as the left-hander withdrew citing "mental fatigue" after a first round 79 that left him little chance of making the cut.

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