Rory McIlroy fails to spark in China at WGC-HSBC Champions
A LEVEL par opening round at Sheshan International Golf Club in China has Rory McIlroy eight off the early lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The Ulsterman mixed four birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey in an up-and-down round to leave him trailing first round leader Patrick Reed in Shanghai.
After six straight pars, McIlroy carded his double bogey on the 16th - his seventh hole of the day having started on the 10th - after having to play left handed from under a tree and made the turn two-over.
He parred the first before going on a bizarre run of six holes without a par, picking up birdies at the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th to go with dropped shots at the 3rd and 6th.
That brought him back to level par and, after a look at birdie just slipped by at the 9th, his 18th, McIlroy tapped in to card a level-par 72.
Controversial US Ryder Cup player Reed was the star man of the day, holding a two-shot lead after a bogey-free eight-under 64.
He's closely followed by Ryder Cup team-mate Tony Finau and another American, Xander Schauffele, at six-under, with England's Matthew Fitzpatrick a shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood among those on four-under.
Former Northern Ireland Open winner Ryan Fox is at two-under par, World No.1 Brooks Koepka is alongside McIlroy at level-par with two Irish Open champions in Jon Rahm and Russell Knox at one-over and two-over respectively.
McIlroy tees off his second round alongside Francesco Molinari (+4) and Dustin Johnson (+2) at 1:40am UK time on Friday morning.