WASHINGTON • Jason Dufner powered to a seven-under 65 on Thursday to join Sweden's David Lingmerth atop the Memorial Tournament leaderboard, with Jordan Spieth one adrift and top-ranked Dustin Johnson nowhere in sight.
Lingmerth, winner of this Jack Nicklaus-hosted USPGA Tour event in Dublin, Ohio in 2015, set the target early with a morning round that included eight birdies and one eagle, with three bogeys.
Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner, answered with a stellar afternoon that saw him hit the first 17 greens in regulation on the way to six birdies and an eagle, before his only bogey at the 18th dropped him into a tie for the lead.
The pair led Spieth and fellow American Daniel Summerhays by a shot after the first round.
"I caught some breaks when I missed the fairway and still had some fairly good opportunities from the rough," Lingmerth said.
Dufner credited his round to crisp iron play that "put me in positions to have some looks at birdies".
Spieth, who finished with a share of second behind Kevin Kisner at Colonial Country Club in Texas last Sunday, teed off on the 10th 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," the two-time Major champion 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. His 78 did not include a single birdie.
The American, who had three wins this season before he hurt his back and missed the Masters, teed off on No. 10 and posted a triple-bogey six at the 16th, where he was in the water. He also had a bogey and a double-bogey.
It was a tough day, too, for former world No. 1 Jason Day, who had six bogeys and three birdies in a 75.
Hideki Matsuyama, who won his first PGA Tour title at the Memorial in 2014, shook off a tough front nine with four birdies coming in en route to a 70.
The world No. 4 was among a group of 13 sharing 13th place that also included five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
Day 3: StarHub Ch204, tomorrow, 12.30am