Jeff Maggert and John Merrick shot 4-under-par 66s Thursday to share the first-round lead in the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, leaving US Open champion Rory McIlroy two strokes back.
Maggert took advantage of teeing off in the first group with calm conditions for the first seven holes, and finished with four birdies, an eagle, and two bogeys. Merrick matched his best round of the year with six birdies and two bogeys, the last on No. 18 when his tee shot went into the water to drop him back into a tie for the lead.
“Had a loose shot there on 18, but you know . . . can’t hit every shot perfect out there,’’ Merrick said.
S.Y. Noh, Arjun Atwal, Jeff Overton, and J.J. Henry were a stroke back.
McIlroy, preparing for his US Open title defense next week at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, followed at 68 in a group that included Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang, and John Daly.
McIlroy, coming off three straight missed cuts worldwide, played alongside Harrington and Graeme McDowell in an all-Irish threesome. McIlroy and McDowell are from Northern Ireland, and Harrington from Ireland.
The company and extra work on his game had McIlroy pretty happy Thursday despite two bogeys.
“I felt like that was about the best round of golf I played in a while,’’ he said.
LPGA - Yani Tseng isn’t accustomed to this: 4 over par in an LPGA Tour major.
Luckily for the 23-year-old Taiwanese star, the winner of five majors already, there are three rounds to play on a course she dominated a year ago.
Tseng is chasing a trio of unlikely leaders in Beatriz Recari, Ryann O’Toole, and Giulia Sergas, who each shot 3-under 69 to tie after the opening round of the LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y.
Despite matching her worst score of the year at 76, Tseng, the top women’s player in the world, was only seven shots off the lead after a round that included six bogeys and only two birdies.
Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods and playing on a sponsor’s exemption, shot a 3-over 75 in her first event as a professional.
Champions - Dan Forsman and Bill Glasson shared the first-round lead in the Regions Tradition, shooting 6-under 66 at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala., in the second of the senior’s five major championships.
Glasson was in the first group teeing off and had sole possession of the lead for about four hours until Forsman capped a run of four straight birdies on No. 14 to catch up.
Fred Funk was a stroke back, and Bernard Langer opened with a 68.
European - Lee Westwood shot an 8-under 64 to lead by three strokes after the second round at the Nordea Masters in Bro, Sweden.
The third-ranked Englishman was at 12 under after playing with a new set of irons ahead of the US Open next week.