Sean O'Hair Sean O'Hair, Nick O'Hern and Rod Pampling share first-round lead in low-scoring Memorial

Near-perfect playing conditions Thursday resulted in the lowest first-round scoring average in the 32-year history of the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Sean O'Hair, Nick O'Hern and Rod Pampling took full advantage of the soft conditions and receptive greens to post 7-under-par 65s and share the first-round lead at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event at Dublin, Ohio.

There were 29 rounds in the 60s, and 57 players finished below par.

"When we get perfect conditions, with the quality of [the] field, you're going to shoot low," Pampling said during his post-round news conference. "There wasn't that bit of wind that gave the course a little bit of defense. It's still a good, strong golf course. Trust me, it'll get us back, I'm sure."

The field average of 71.24 was the lowest for the opening round in Memorial history, breaking the 1995 record of 71.43, and only the fifth under-par average in the event's 32 years.

While several lesser-name players in the field were going low, Tiger Woods made some uncharacteristic mistakes and finished at 70, tied for 30th. The world's top-ranked player started fast with three birdies in the first six holes, but back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13 derailed his momentum.

Woods characterized his round as frustrating, telling reporters he had an opportunity to shoot between 4 and 6 under. Instead, he needed a birdie at No. 16 to get to 2 under for the day.

"I made a couple of careless bogeys out there and missed a couple opportunities with the putter," Woods said. "The golf course was playing pretty benign today. Today was the day to actually really shoot some good numbers - look at the field, they pretty much did."

Still, Woods' fortunes were better than that of world No. 2 Phil Mickelson and Masters champ Zach Johnson. Mickelson withdrew after 11 holes after aggravating an injury to his left wrist, while Johnson went 15 holes before pulling out with a case of strep throat.

Mickelson said he first noticed pain in his wrist over the Memorial Day weekend after chipping several balls out of the rough during a practice round at Oakmont Country Club, site of this month's U.S. Open.

"I don't think it's anything serious, but it just got worse" at Muirfield, he told reporters. "I couldn't grab the club and I couldn't swing."

O'Hair, O'Hern and Pampling had no such problems.

O'Hair's career-best round at Muirfield included eight birdies, with his lone bogey coming on No. 17. He made consecutive birdies on Nos. 5-8 and needed just 26 putts.

"I rolled the ball great," O'Hair said. "I felt like my speed control today was really good. [I] didn't get too aggressive on the greens. I think I did a good job just staying patient and I did what I needed to do."

O'Hern, whose previous claim to fame was knocking Woods out of the Accenture Match Play Championship back in February, responded to his only bogey of the day on No. 10 with birdies on five of the next six holes. His 65 was a season-best effort.

"Just very solid golf from tee to green," O'Hern said. "A bit scrappy early on in the back nine, but I had a run of about five birdies in six holes on the back nine, which is always going to do some pretty good things."

Ernie Els, Aaron Baddeley, Tim Herron, Bubba Watson and Ryan Moore are a shot back at 66. Will MacKenzie is alone in ninth place after a first-round 67, while defending champion Carl Pettersson is among seven players tied at 68.

June 1, 2007

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