Rory McIlroy in vanguard at Hero World Challenge with share of lead

Adventurous round pays dividends for Northern Irish man with 66 – six under par

Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker on the 5th hole during the first round of the Hero World Challenge PGA Tour at the Albany Golf Club, in New Providence, Bahamas on Thursday. Photograph: AP

Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker on the 5th hole during the first round of the Hero World Challenge PGA Tour at the Albany Golf Club, in New Providence, Bahamas on Thursday. Photograph: AP

 

An end-of-season affair with a Bahamian twist, Rory McIlroy’s decision to extend his year’s work to include the Hero World Challenge looked to be a wise one as the Northern Irish man moved to the business part of proceedings with a 66, six under par, that ensured a share of the first-round lead.

McIlroy’s adventurous roundmeant he claimed six birdies along with a double-bogey seven on the ninth (when he hit his approach into the water) and a chip-in eagle on the 14th, where his tee shot to the 290 yards Par 4 finished in a gully just off the green from where he pitched in for a two.

“I’ve played this course a lot over the years being a member here for a few years and it’s a little different. You don’t quite see the trouble and the water as much in practice as you do when you’ve got a scorecard in your hand. I always used to think this place was very wide open and could sort of just wail on driver everywhere, but once you get a card in your hand and you start to play the way you normally play in a tournament, everything just starts to tighten up a little bit,” said McIlroy, describing his round as “messy”.

Three-way tie

Justin Thomas seemed set to assume the outright lead only to suffer a double-bogey six on his finishing hole which left McIlroy in a three-way tie alongside American Daniel Berger and Mexican Abraham Ancer.

McIlroy, playing in the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods for the first time since 2013 (previously at Sherwood) but nowadays played at Albany in the Bahamas in the Caribbean Sea, claimed birdies at the second, fourth and fifth holes only to suffer that double bogey on the ninth. On the homeward run, however, he was flawless in adding birdies on the 10th, 11th and 15th to his eagle on the 14th.

Leaderboard

USA unless stated, par 72

66 Abraham Ancer (Mex), Daniel Berger, Rory McIlroy (N Irl)
67 Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka
68 Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland (Nor), Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed
69 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Bryson DeChambeau
70 Xander Schauffele
71 Sam Burns, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng), Justin Rose (Eng), Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth
72 Henrik Stenson (Swe)
75 Harris English

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