Todd in early tie for Memorial lead, Tiger toils
DUBLIN – Brendon Todd birdied five of his last nine holes to surge into an early tie for the lead at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, on Thursday as Tiger Woods fought back from a messy start to open with a one-over-par 73.
Todd, whose only PGA Tour victory came at last year’s Byron Nelson Championship, took advantage of relatively soft conditions on a calm, overcast day at Muirfield Village to fire a five-under-par 67.
That put him joint top in the early going at the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus — level with fellow Americans Ryan Moore, Ken Duke and Harris English, who birdied three of his last five holes.
“I hung in there,” Todd, 29, told PGA Tour Radio after mixing seven birdies with two bogeys. “Front nine, I was doing everything well except for my speed on the greens, but it was nice to make some putts on the back.
World number two Jordan Spieth, the highest-ranked player in the field, recovered from a slow start to card a 68 while Woods scrambled on his back nine with three late birdies to salvage his round.
“Some of the shots I hit were really, really good, but then I also had some really bad shots,” former world number one Woods said after covering his first nine holes in an ugly four-over 40. “And we need to work on that.”
Woods, a five-times champion at Muirfield Village whose world ranking has plummeted to 172nd, ended his roller-coaster round with five birdies, four bogeys and a double at the tricky par-four 18th, his ninth hole of the day.
He is playing only his fifth PGA Tour event of the season after struggling with his game, and has not competed since tying for 69th at the Players Championship last month.
Masters champion Spieth, already a double winner on the U.S. circuit this season, was delighted with his score after teeing off at the 10th.
“It’s not easy to start on number 10, it’s a brutal hole,” said the 21-year-old American. “Great up-and-downs the first four holes before I finally hit a wedge in there tight on 14 and a good up-and-down out of the bunker on 15 for birdie.
“To shoot two under on the back nine is a great score. Most of the chances are on the front. Very pleased with the round.” – REUTERS