WASHINGTON: Sweden’s David Lingmerth broke out of his recent doldrums to seize the early first-round lead at the Memorial tournament on Friday, where Jordan Spieth was one adrift and top-ranked Dustin Johnson nowhere.
Lingmerth, winner of the Jack Nicklaus-hosted tournament in Dublin, Ohio, in 2015, hasn’t posted a top-10 finish on the US PGA Tour this year.
But he roared through the front nine with five birdies en route to a seven-under 65 that included eight birdies total in done eagle.
His three back-nine bogeys let former world number one Jordan Spieth and fellow American Daniel Summerhays stay in touch, both in the clubhouse on six-under 66.
“I caught some breaks when I missed the fairway and still had some fairly good opportunities from the rough,” Lingmerth said.
“I consistently put myself in good spots around the greens and was able to roll a few in.”
His lackluster results so far this season, however, had Lingmerth sounding a note of caution.
“It’s a very humbling game,” he said. “There’s a lot of work ahead this week and weeks to come obviously so I’m just trying to take one shot at a time.”
Spieth, who finished with a share of second at Colonial Country Club in Texas on Sunday, teed off on 10 and followed three birdies in his first six holes with back-to-back bogeys.
He rebounded, however, with five birdies on his inward run.
“I hung in there,” Spieth said. “My wedge play was awesome last week and it continued this week.”
Meanwhile Johnson, who will defend his maiden major title at the US Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin in two weeks, got off to a dismal start in this crucial tune-up.
Johnson’s six-over par 78 didn’t include a single birdie.
Johnson, who had three wins this season before he hurt his back in a fall that forced him out of the Masters in April, teed off on 10 and posted a triple-bogey six at the par-three 16th, where he was in the water.
He also had a bogey and a double-bogey.