REJUVENATED Rory McIlroy believes his nightmare spell is behind him after he shot a seven-under-par round of 65 to take a first-round lead at the WGC HSBC Champions yesterday in Shanghai.
The former world No1 has suffered a barren and arduous 2013 and needs a sparkling performance this week if he is to qualify for the European Tour’s lucrative final event in Dubai later this month.
But he justified some bullish pre-tournament talk with a vintage round at Sheshan International Club that gave him a two-shot overnight lead on in-form Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
“I feel good, I’m controlling my ball much better, seeing shots the way I like to see shots. It’s getting there, it definitely is. It’s only one round but it’s a great start,” said two-time Major winner McIlroy, who sank eight birdies and a bogey.
The Northern Irishman won both European and American money lists last year, and added: “I’ve tried to stay patient the entire season and I know if I’m working on the right things, it’ll start to fall into place.”
McIlroy’s spectacular return to form, which follows his defeat of Tiger Woods in an 18-hole exhibition match earlier this week, was matched only by Phil Mickelson’s wretched collapse.
The American five-time Major winner shared the lead with McIlroy at six under but proceeded to quadruple bogey his penultimate hole, where he found water twice, and then, teeing off into more water, bogeyed the 18th.