Rory McIlroy’s first hole after picking up the the €1.45m prize at the Shanghai Masters last weekend started rather unimpressively, with a bogey on the first tee, but the 22 year old quickly regained his composure and it ended being his only dropped shot on the first day of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Watched by his girlfriend and Women Tennis Association World Number 1 Caroline Wozniacki, he picked up birdies on the sixth, eighth and 18th holes to finish just one stroke behind Graeme McDowell who had somewhat of a helter skelter day to finish three under 69.
On the 17th, McDowell drove straight from the tee into the thick bushes of the Sheshan Golf Club course and shot a triple bogey, he then bogeyed the first tee only to shoot three birdies in the next four to move up the board.
Both the Irishmen will have their work cut out for them if they are to match Keegan Bradley’s flawless opening day performance.
The American played an eagle and five birdies in the opening round to lead compatriot Bo Van Pelt and Swedish pair Alex Noren and Fredrik Jacobson by two.
Bradley, who picked up his first major at the USPGA Championship in August, was left out of Fred Couples’ team for the upcoming Presidents Cup in favour of Tiger Woods who is now outside the top 50.
Couples may rue that decision after seeing Bradley’s 15 foot putt for an eagle on the 18th here and the five birdies he pulled out throughout the course.