It turns that hollow one-shot victory against a sick, rusty and disinterested Tiger Woods in Hainan may just have done enough to get Rory McIlroy’s season back on track. Paired with Jason Dufner and Luke Donald in the opening round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, McIlroy opened birdie-bogey. But six birdies in nine holes took him to -6, and another birdie on the 8th hole (his 17th) put him at -7, two shots ahead of last week’s winner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and chopsticks maestro Jamie Donaldson. McIlroy rated it as his best round of the year.
It looked like Phil Mickelson, playing in the group following McIlroy, would also be right behind him on the scoreboard. The American was -6 through 16 holes of bogey-free golf, but then stuck his ball into the water THREE times in his closing two holes – recording a nine at the 8th, and a bogey at the 9th.
Jordan Spieth, who joked to Chinese fans he was going to dress up as an American sportsman for Halloween, headed a group of four players at -4. Huang Wenyi at -2 was the only one of six Chinese players in the field to shoot under par, and is tied for 15th. DA Points, meanwhile, was spending too much time tweeting and could only manage a level-par round of 72.