Rory picks up where he left off

The Rory McIlroy steamroller hit Ohio on Thursday as the two-time major winner took a three-shot lead in the Memorial Tournament.

Just days after ending his European Tour drought with victory in the BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy carded a nine-under-par 63 to claim a comfortable advantage over Paul Casey, Bubba Watson and Chris Kirk.

The Northern Irishman, who has been in the spotlight in the past week after calling off his engagement with former world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, carded four birdies on the front nine and then picked up another four shots, including a 28-foot eagle putt at the par-five 11th, on the first four holes on the back nine.

However, his good run was halted with a double-bogey on the 14th only for him to hit back with another eagle at the par-five 15th and a birdie at the 16th.

“I obviously played really well from tee to green. I holed a lot of putts as well, two really good up and downs at the last two holes,” McIlroy said.

He added: “I’m really happy and obviously a really good opening round. It could have been even better, apart from a double bogey on 14.”

The 25-year-old has a handy lead with Casey, Watson and Kirk carding six under pars. Casey’s round included six birdies, an eagle at the seventh and two bogeys.

“That was a joy today,” Casey said. “I thought the golf course (was) in impeccable shape. It’s beautifully set up. I’m very happy with a six under.”

Masters champion Watson started on the back nine and mixed up six birdies and an eagle at the 15th with bogeys at the 16th and 17th.

“They are generous fairways around here so I can keep the ball somewhat in play,” the left-hander.

“If I hit my driver well, it’s shorter irons into some of the par-fours and the par-fives are reachable if you hit decent tee shots. And today I played the par-threes pretty good.

“I am making a few putts here and there and birdied the last few holes. Making those key putts coming down the stretch obviously makes a good score.”

Keegan Bradley, Michael Thompson and JB Holmes are at five under while Justin Leonard, Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore are another shift adrift.

World number one Adam Scott is tied for 11th at three under alongside Jordan Spieth with the Australian’s round including six birdies, a double-bogey and a bogey.

Phil Mickelson was in with a shout during the early stages, but he collapsed to 72 after a bogey and two double-bogeys in his final three holes.

Reigning US Open champion Justin Rose started with a 73 while defending champion Matt Kuchar was another shot behind.