For at least one round, Rory McIlroy displayed his graceful combination of power and balance. There was a bounce in his step after every birdie. His name at the top of the leaderboard.
The former No. 1 player in the world who hasn’t won a tournament all year, made eight birdies in a round of 7-under-par 65 to take the first-round lead at the HSBC Champions on Thursday in Shanghai.
He followed up with an even-par 72 to fall out of the lead – but not out of love with how good it felt.
“It felt good to be out there and in control of my golf ball,” McIlroy said.
Friday’s second round — which was incomplete when the The News Tribune went to press — saw another golfer catch fire and pass McIlroy.
Dustin Johnson birdied six of his first seven holes and reached 10 under with birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 for a three-shot lead.
Bunched with McIlroy were Bubba Watson (69) and Boo Weekley (67). A group of five players, including Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, were a one shot back at 6 under.
After an opening-round 2-under 70, Puyallup’s Ryan Moore — coming off a playoff victory at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia — was even through 14 holes of his second round at press time.
Players at 6-under par included Spain’s Sergio Garcia and England’s Justin Rose.
SENIOR ATOP SCHWAB
Australia’s Peter Senior shot an 8-under 63 to take a one-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Senior had nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
David Frost shot 64 despite missing a short putt on No. 18. Seattle native Fred Couples was third at 65.
A $25,000 ACE
Logan Watts earned $25,000 with a hole-in-one at the PGA Assistant Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The 24-year-old PGA apprentice at Louisville (Ky.) Country Club used a 4-iron on the 214-yard 17th hole. He finished at 3-under 69 — two shots back of leader Trent Rommann.