McIlroy back to his brilliant best

European Tour

World number six Rory McIlroy rediscovered his best form when he took the opening round lead with a seven-under-par 65 at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Thursday.

Wales’ Jamie Donaldson and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez -Castano are two shots back of McIlroy after they returned with matching 67s while American Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth together with England’s Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood are in equal fourth on 68.

While McIlroy, a two-time Major winner, has yet to win this season, he showed he is getting back to his best form with a commanding performance at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

“It’s obviously frustrating when you’ve had a couple of seasons previously where you have had success, and not being able to emulate that. There’re times where you definitely get frustrated. I wouldn’t say that I was restless in terms of trying to get a win this season, because I think that the best way to approach it is to stay patient and not to force the issue too much,” said the former world number one.

Starting from the back-nine par-four 10th, McIlroy opened with a birdie but gave the shot straight back at the next.

He then stepped up the pace by picking up further gains at the 12th, 14th ,16th and 18th holes to turn in 32.

Another birdie on the first took McIlroy into a share of the lead on five-under before another birdie on the second hole saw him grab the outright lead.

McIlroy then went on to add another birdie on the eighth hole to establish a two-shot advantage at the top.

“I came here yesterday and talked about how I like this golf course and how I felt like it set up well for me. It felt good to be out there and be in control of my golf ball. I gave myself a lot of chances for birdies,” said McIlroy.

After winning in Shanghai last week, Fernandez-Castano is now targeting back-to-back wins in the Chinese city.

He mixed two birdies against a bogey in his outward-nine but birdied four holes in a row starting from the fifth hole on his back nine to remain in contention for another win.

“It has been a good start. I played very, very solid golf tee to green again. I left myself a lot of birdie chances and minus five to start the tournament is a pretty good result considering the circumstance as it was windy out there and there were some tricky pin positions,” said the Spaniard.

Meanwhile Donaldson also had a round to remember which included a 22-feet putt for eagle on the 16th hole.

“It’s always nice to see those putts go into a hole like that. So it was a good end to the round,” said Donaldson.

“There’re so many difficult holes out there. If you miss the fairways in the wrong hole, it makes it very difficult to get anywhere near the green. So it was just a case of trying to keep it in play, staying patient and taking it from there for me today,” added Donaldson.

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