June 1 (Reuters) - Swede David Lingmerth emerged from hibernation to take the early first-round lead at the Memorial tournament on Thursday as world number one Dustin Johnson stumbled with a six-over-par 78 in Dublin, Ohio.
The 2015 champion Lingmerth, who has not posted a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, conjured up some old magic on one of his favourite courses to card a seven-under-par 65 at pristine Muirfield Village.
He plundered an eagle and eight birdies but also had three bogeys to lead Americans Jordan Spieth and Daniel Summerhays by one stroke with half the field back in the clubhouse.
“I caught some breaks when I missed the fairway and still had some fairly good opportunities from the rough,” Lingmerth told Golf Channel.
“I consistently put myself in good spots around the greens and was able to roll a few in. I felt good with the putter today and that really helps a lot out here.
"Every time I’ve showed up here I’ve had good feelings about this place. I really love the greens.”
However, since Lingmerth has struggled this season he did not want to read too much into one excellent round.
“It’s a very humbling game. I’ve been working hard all year and the results haven’t really been there but I've been sticking with it. There’s a lot of work ahead this week and (in) weeks to come obviously so I’m just trying to take one shot at a time.”
Spieth has also found form recently.
“It was a good fight. I hung in there,” said the 2015 U.S. Open champion, who finished equal second at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth last week.
“My wedge play was awesome last week and it continued this week. We were pin seeking with some of the wedges.”
It was a different story for Johnson, who failed to post a birdie in a round that included a triple bogey at the par-three 16th, where his tee shot found the pond guarding the green.
The Jack Nicklaus-founded Memorial tournament has attracted a stellar field as usual in what for many players is a final tune-up before the U.S. Open, with Johnson set to defend his title at Erin Hills in Wisconsin in two weeks' time. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina)