Golf: Morikawa clings to lead after storm-hit PGA Memorial first round

Collin Morikawa on the ninth hole during the first round of the Memorial tournament.
Collin Morikawa on the ninth hole during the first round of the Memorial tournament.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Collin Morikawa, last year's PGA Championship winner, clung to a one-stroke lead after Friday's (June 4) completion of the storm-interrupted opening round of the US PGA Memorial tournament.

But the 24-year-old American was only alone at the top on six-under par 66 after compatriot Chris Kirk, chasing his first US PGA title in six years, closed with a bogey Friday afternoon to slip back into a second-place pack on 67 at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Morikawa was in the clubhouse with a one-stroke advantage when storms halted play Thursday before the last two threesomes had even teed off.

Adam Long, another Thursday finisher, joined Scottie Scheffler and Kirk on 67.

The second round was already under way when the final players finished the first, but there was no chance all players would complete 36 holes before nightfall on Friday.

Morikawa is seeking his fifth career PGA title and second of the year after winning a WGC event in Bradenton, Florida, in February.

Last July, Morikawa won a Covid-19 makeup event at Muirfield Village the week before the 2020 Memorial.

Kirk, among the final players to start his round Thursday, sank a five-foot birdie putt at the first hole, dropped his approach inches from the cup and tapped in for birdie at the third and sank a birdie putt from just inside nine feet at the par-5 fifth hole.

On the back nine Friday, Kirk sank a 15-footer to birdie the par-5 11th, saved par from 12 feet at the par-4 13th, then rolled in a 47-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th to move one off the lead.

World number 68 Kirk sank a six-foot birdie at par-4 17th to briefly share the lead with Morikawa, then went right of the green on his approach at 18 and missed a six-foot par putt to fall back.

Kirk, 36, is seeking his fifth career PGA title after winning his first at the 2011 Viking Classic. He has also captured the 2013 McGladrey Classic, the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship and the 2015 Colonial Invitational.

Kirk matched his best finish since then with a runner-up effort last January at the Sony Open in Hawaii.