Players never win tournaments on Thursday, but they sure can lose them.

Through 17 holes, Rory McIlroy had a terrific round going at the Memorial Tournament. He sat at 3-under par, just one shot off the lead.

He hit a superb wedge shot on the 3rd hole to about two feet, leading to his first birdie. He holed a 14-footer for birdie on the par-3 8th, then took advantage of the par-5s on the back nine, making birdie on both the 11th and 15th.

The only blemish on his card was a bogey at 10, where he three-putted for his five.

Then McIlroy arrived at the 18th tee.

The final hole at Muirfield Village is a long, uphill, dogleg right par-4 that measures 476 yards. A creek left of the fairway threatens anything slightly pulled, while a set of sand traps about 300 yards up the right side guards any tee ball pushed.

McIlroy, who hit ten of 14 fairways, hit his final drive of the day right of the bunkers. Unfortunately for him, his ball nestled on the side of a hill.

The four-time major winner then faced an awkward stance as he had to perform a baseball-like swing to advance his ball.

His second shot went just 24 yards and nestled deep into the rough.

McIlroy air-mailed the green with his third and made a mess of things there, needing two chip shots and two putts as he ultimately walked away with a triple-bogey seven.

In a matter of minutes, he went from tied for second to tied for 33rd. His 3-under-par round evaporated, as McIlroy finished the day just as he started: even par.

The Northern Irishman is still in it with 54 holes to play, but he did himself no favors Thursday at the 18th.

When Sunday rolls around—if McIlroy makes the cut—he surely will reminisce about his day one disaster. Those three strokes he lost would have paid huge dividends for McIlroy, especially considering he has never won at Jack’s Place.

Davis Riley leads at 5-under after the first day, while Matt Wallace of England sits alone in second place at 4-under.

Several others, including Jordan Spieth and Shane Lowry, are 3-under while Jon Rahm is 2-under par.

2023-06-02T00:14:03Z dg43tfdfdgfd