For the longest time Thursday, it looked like the best players in the world were stumbling their way around Muirfield Village.
It was early but Abraham Ancer and 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann were sitting by themselves with the early lead with seven-under par 65s.
Niemann, who played in the Masters as an amateur, is playing in just his sixth event as a pro, in the field thanks to a tie for eighth last week in Fort Worth.
Then two big names showed up in the afternoon.
Jason Day, who lives in Columbus and plays at Muirfield Village, has never managed a top 10 finish, much less a good start. Day, who was sick on pro-am day, was feeling well enough to shoot 68.
But it was the 10th ranked player in the world and a former champion at The Memorial, who stole the show late in the day.
Hideki Matsuyama went on a run starting at the 13th hole. He made birdie there then three more to get to five-under for his round. Then at the par four 17th he launched a 337-yard drive then proceeded to hole a wedge shot from 136 yards for an eagle two to post 65 and join the leaders.
“Hideki knows how to play this golf course,” said host Jack Nicklaus, who watched Matsuyama finish his round.
Rookie Beau Hossler was alone in fourth with a 66.
Tiger Woods made his return and after a dreadful first nine holes, rallied with four birdies to finish his day with an even par 72 and that was good enough to match the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 players — Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.
Jordan Spieth’s horrible play continued. He finished with a woeful 75 and Rory McIlroy, coming in off a runnerup at the BMW PGA in England last week, struggled mightily with 74.
World’s No. 3 Justin Rose, winner last week at Colonial, shot 71.
Defending champion Jason Dufner’s 75 put him on the wrong side of the projected cut line.