Marc Leishman watches his tee shot on the first hole during the first round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio.  Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Marc Leishman watches his tee shot on the first hole during the first round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Leishman's 67 leaves him two off the pace in Ohio

AUSTRALIA'S Marc Leishman says his beefed-up driving has boosted his chances of winning the US PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament, after a sensational start to the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event in Ohio.

World No.24 Leishman is well in contention after the first round of the prestigious invitational at Muirfield Village Golf Club courtesy of a five-under-par 67 that has left him just two shots from the lead.

American Ryan Moore made light work of the difficult par-72 course with a 65 to take the first-round lead, one shot ahead of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth (66).

While his big-name compatriots Adam Scott and Jason Day are languishing off the pace, Leishman is tied for third with Anirban Lahiri and two-time major winner Martin Kaymer.

Leishman has three top-15s in his past three Memorial starts, but says a longer, more accurate driver will help him realise his dream of lifting the trophy and shaking 18-time major winner Nicklaus's hand on Sunday (local time).

"In the last four years in particular, I've been driving a lot better," Leishman said after hitting nine of 14 fairways.

"If you can get it on the fairway here, they're generous, but if you miss them, they're very penalising."

With a tie for 49th his best result from his past three events on the PGA Tour, Leishman feels his form is coming around in time for the US Open at Pebble Beach in two weeks.

"I had a couple rough months," he said.

"My body wasn't feeling great and I wasn't driving it as well as I would have liked, and the putter was cold.

"My game is coming back around. I would love to leave here with a win.

"But it will be a pretty good warm-up for what is going to be probably a pretty brutal US Open."

Five-time Memorial champion Tiger Woods mixed four birdies with two bogeys to post a tidy 70 sit at two under.

Major winners and former world No.1s Day and Scott were grouped together but failed to live up to their billing.

Scott managed a respectable 71 to sit one under the card, while Muirfield Village member and Columbus resident Day struggled to a sloppy 75.

Aaron Baddeley (72) is next best of the Australians at even par, while Matt Jones (75) is tied with Day at three over.

Rounded out the Australian contingent, Cameron Smith posted a 77.

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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