Rory McIlroy fired a seven under par 65 in a tricky wind, and strange pin placements on Thursday to take the first round lead at The World Golf Championships HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai. The young Norther Irishman played arguably one of his finest rounds of golf since making the switch to Nike back in January at Abu Dhabi. He has a two-shot lead at the Sheshan International Golf Coure over last week’s winner at Lake Malaren, Gonzalo FDEZ Costano from Spain, and Jamie Donaldson from Wales. PGA Rookie of the Year, Jordan Spieth is three back.
Beginning his day on the back nine, McIlroy got it going early with a birdie at the tenth hole. He made his only bogey at number 11, and made seven birdies on the remainder of his round to card the 65. He wasn’t stellar off the tee, hitting only 31% of his fairways, but he was able to scramble well, and got to the greens at an 83% clip. He needed only 1.5 putts per green to get to the clubhouse.
Rory McIlroy looked more like the dominating force we saw all of 2012, and have not ween all year. He has not won a tournament all year, and needs a good finish in the next three tournaments in order to qualify for the DP World Tour Championships, Dubai next month. He is currently in 62nd place, and needs to be in the top 60 to make the trip to Dubai.
“It was good, it felt good to be out there and be in control of my golf ball,” McIlroy said. “It’s only one round of golf, but it’s definitely the way I wanted and needed to start this week.”
Seventy-Eight of the Worlds best players are in Shanghai this week where for the first time, there is Race To Dubai points as well as, FedEx Cup points on the line for people who are on both tours. Tiger Woods is the only world-class golfer not in the field.
Gonzalo FDEZ Costano is quickly showing folks he play this game at a high level. He joined Jamie Donaldson with a 67 on Thursday for a share of second place, two strokes back. Costano won the BMW Masters last week, also in Shanghai.
“I played again very, very solid golf tee to green. I left myself a lot of birdie chances and minus five to start the tournament is a pretty good result considering the circumstance,” Fernandez-Castano said. ”It was windy out there and there’s some tricky pin positions. Overall very, very happy with my performance.”
Playing in his first WGC event, PGA rookie, Jordan Spieth is showing the world that he belongs in a world-class field. He joins US Open Champ, Justin Rose, 2012 Masters Champ, Bubba Watson, and Englishman, Tommy Fleetwood in a tie for fourth place at four under par, three strokes back.
“I didn’t really know what to expect out of the game this week, traveling over here, and, yeah, limited practice,” said Spieth, who is making his World Golf Championships debut this week. “But maybe it was good for me.”
Phil Mickelson had his score to six under par, and was ready to challenge McIlroy for a share of the lead when he had a Phil moment at the par five eight hole where he pulled two into the water. Lefty put a nine on his score card. He also bogeyed his final hole, number nine to drop to one under par, and into a tie for 28th place.
You can see coverage of the second round at 11PM Eastern on the Golf Channel. I know it’s late, but this is a good tournament, and well worth watching if you can stay up.
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