WGC-HSBC Champions: McIlroy makes strong start in Shanghai

WGC-HSBC Champions Rory McIlroy

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Rory McIlroy made an early statement of intent with an impressive first-round seven-under-par 65 which handed him a two-shot lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

The 24-year-old Northern Irishman and former world number one has endured a frustrating year on the course with no tournament victories to date.

However, McIlroy showed glimpses of his capabilities with a victory against Tiger Woods in an exhibition match earlier this week. And he followed that form at Sheshan International Golf Club, carding eight birdies and just one bogey in his opening round.

The two-time major champion, who predicted before the tournament that he would do enough to move up from 62nd place on the European Tour money list and into the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai to make the cut for the DP World Tour Championship next month, leads second-placed Jamie Donaldson of Wales and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano who finished their respective first rounds on five under par.

England’s Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood, and America’s Bubba Watson and Jordan Speith are tied in fourth at four under par.

However, there was a disastrous first-round finish for Open champion Phil Mickelson who shared the lead with a birdie at the 16th, but then a quadruple-bogey nine at the next and a bogey at the last left him one under.

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