DUBLIN, Ohio — Paul Casey expected to be chasing someone Friday in the Memorial, figuring it would be Rory McIlroy.
After two holes, Casey had the lead to himself at Muirfield Village, and that was only the start of another big day. He took advantage of the par 5s for another 6-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead over Masters champion Bubba Watson going into the weekend.
“To be honest, I thought I was going to be playing a round to try and maybe catch a couple of guys,” Casey said. “I woke up checking the scores to see what Rory was going to be. That’s really what I was going to be doing — see how many under I was going to have to try to shoot to chase. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
McIlroy, whose 63 was the lowest first round in the 39-year history of the tournament, was barely in the picture. He was 15 shots worse with a 78, courtesy of three straight double bogeys and his fourth straight PGA Tour event with a nine-hole score of 40 or higher. McIlroy went from a three-shot lead to nine shots behind.
Casey, taking another step on a long road back from injuries that nearly derailed his career, was at 12-under 132.
He made his first birdie with his best drive of the day on the par-5 11th, setting up a 4-iron onto the green for a two-putt birdie. He made eagle on the par-5 15th hole for the second straight day, and he stuffed it close around the turn for birdies to start pulling away from the field.
Watson gave him a good run in an active round that featured six birdies, five bogeys and an eagle. He only was angry at a few shots where he failed to concentrate. Even so, a bogey-bogey finish wasn’t enough to entirely ruin his day. Watson has never finished better than 23rd in eight previous appearances.
Chris Kirk (70) was four shots behind. Hideki Matsuyama (67) and Martin Flores (68) were five back.
Adam Scott, who won Colonial in his debut at No. 1 in the world, shot 70 and was at 5-under 139, still in the mix depending on how Casey fares on the weekend. Phil Mickelson was happy to get in two more rounds. He shot a 70, though he was 10 shots back.
JOHNSON TIES COURSE RECORD WITH 62 AT SHOPRITE CLASSIC
In Galloway Township, N.J., Jennifer Johnson matched the course record with a 9-under 62 to take the first-round lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
The 22-year-old Johnson had 10 birdies — five straight on Nos. 9-13 — and a bogey on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
The only other players to shoot 62 at Seaview were Laura Davies and Jimin Kang in 2005.
Haru Nomura had a bogey-free 63, and Christina Kim opened with a 64.
Top-ranked Inbee Park and Na Yeon Choi shot 66 in the morning session. Park, winless this season, missed the cut last week in Alabama to end her streak at 22 events.
Second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie shot 67.
C alcavecchia, Short tied for PRINCIPAL CHARITY CLASSIC LEAD: In Des Moines, Iowa, Mark Calcavecchia and Wes Short Jr. shot 6-under 66 to share the first-round lead in the Champions Tour’s Principal Charity Classic.
Calcavecchia, third last year at the Wakonda Club, had three straight birdies on the back nine.
for his best start of the season. Short birdied the 18th hole to join Calcavecchia atop the leaderboard.
Bobby Clampett, Peter Senior and Shane Lowery were a stroke back.
THREE-WAY TIE FOR LEAD AT NORDEA MASTERS: In Malmo, Sweden, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros shot a 5-under 67 in the Nordea Masters for a share of the second-round lead with France’s Victor Dubuisson and England’s Eddie Pepperell.
They were at 6-under 139 on PGA Sweden National’s Lakes Course.
Second-ranked Henrik Stenson topped the group at 5 under after a 70. The Swede is winless this year after sweeping the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup last season.