Friday 24 October 2014

McIlroy in the mix

Published 03/05/2013 | 08:06

Rory McIlroy reached 67, five under par, during the first round

Rory McIlroy returned to the scene of his first PGA Tour victory and put himself well in contention after day one of the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.

The Northern Irishman won the tournament at Quail Hollow in 2010 thanks to a spectacular closing 62 and, while he was not in quite that form on this occasion, the world number two was sat comfortably in a share of the lead after the opening round. McIlroy was one of seven players to go round in 67, five under par.

Daniel Summerhays and Nate Smith, the last of the group to finish their rounds, had both enjoyed brief stints clear at the top of the leaderboard, but both bogeyed the 17th hole to drop back in the mix.

McIlroy began his round with four pars but then hit four consecutive birdies before a bogey saw him round the turn in 33. Two further birdies and a bogey followed before a final birdie on the last saw him join the leading group.

Also on 67 was Nick Watney who began his round with nine pars having started on the 10th hole, but five birdies on the back nine put him into contention. Ryan Moore, Robert Garrigus and Derek Ernst were also on five under on a clustered leaderboard.

Boo Weekley, who was in contention and finished tied for sixth in New Orleans last week, recorded five birdies and a bogey on his way to a 68 with Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson also showing just a single blemish.

Former Ryder Cup player Robert Karlsson was in a large group a further shot back as the Swede recorded just two bogeys while US Open champion Webb Simpson and Lee Westwood were in the group at two under.

Englishman David Lynn went round in 71 to sit one under while Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Rickie Fowler all recorded level-par rounds.

It was a disappointing day for Padriag Harrington, whose controversial switch to a long-putter could not stop him crashing to an 80 and last place. The two-time Open champion was a big advocate of the ban on belly putters, which will come into force in 2016, but was using one, although his long game was the major factor in his downfall.

"The R&A and USGA support the rules of golf and (anchoring) is well within the rules," Harrington told reporters at Quail Hollow. "I think (anchoring) is bad for the game of golf. But if something's going to help me for the next three and a half years I'm going to use it."

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