DUBLIN, Ohio: South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel piled up 10 birdies in a seven-under par 65 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to seize the first-round lead at the US PGA Tour’s Memorial, where defending champ Tiger Woods was six adrift.
Former Masters champion Schwartzel bounced back from a double-bogey at his penultimate hole to birdie his last, taking a one-stroke lead over American Scott Piercy.
World No. 1 Woods, seeking a sixth Memorial title, played in the afternoon when birdies were harder to come by. He had five birdies and four bogeys in a one-under 71, but ended his day on a down note with a bogey that left him tied for 27th.
“I didn’t score very well compared to how I hit it,” Woods said. “I hit it pretty good. I just didn’t make anything today.
“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll make a few more putts,” he added.
Chinese teen Guan Tianlang just missed out on joining the group at one-under. The 14-year-old amateur sensation was two-under through nine holes and one-under after a bogey at 16, but closed with a bogey to lie tied for 41st on even par.
Schwartzel was delighted to avoid a disappointing end to his productive day.
After teeing off on 10, Schwartzel picked up his first birdie of the day at 11. But after a bogey at 13, where he three-putted from seven feet, he decided to go back to a putting grip with his finger extended down the shaft—having reverted to a conventional grip on the advice of Presidents Cup International Team captain Nick Price.
The move paid off immediately, with birdies at the next four holes.