On Golf: With Room at the Top, Jostling Begins at the Memorial

Rory McIlroy hitting from the 13th fairway during the first round of the Memorial Tournament on Thursday in Dublin, Ohio.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ohio — The N.B.A. finals is billed as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James versus the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry. Yet when these teams met for the title last year, the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala emerged as the Most Valuable Player. It is what makes sports so compelling: The result is what happens after everyone has written the ending.

This week’s Memorial Tournament, a two-hour drive from King James’s commonwealth, opened Thursday and featured the top three golfers in the world: Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Each is coming off a victory: Day at the Players, McIlroy at the Irish Open and Spieth at the P.G.A. Tour stop in Fort Worth, lending credence to their designation as the modern incarnation of the Big Three — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

Day, who lives nearby and is a member at Muirfield Village, carded a six-under-par 66 and is two strokes off the…

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