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McIlroy in front at WGC-HSBC Champions

Oct. 31, 2013 at 6:59 AM   |   Comments

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SHANGHAI, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Rory McIlroy piled up eight birdies Thursday while building a two-stroke lead in first-round play of golf's WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.

McIlroy ended with a 7-under-par 65, which has him two strokes up on Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Jamie Donaldson. A group of Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson is tied for fourth at 4-under and seven more players are at 3-under.

Phil Mickelson was tied for the lead after 16 holes but put two balls in the water at the par-5 eighth -- his 17th Thursday -- for a double-bogey 9 and bogeyed No. 9 to drop to 1-under and a tie for 28th.

McIlroy, starting on the 10th hole Thursday, opened with a birdie but then had a 5 at the par-4 11th. He came right back with another birdie and added birdies at each even-number hole to make the turn at 4-under.

He opened his second nine with back-to-back birdies and added to his lead with one more at No. 8 with a 7-foot putt.

Fernandez-Gonzalo, coming off a European Tour win at the BMW Masters also in Shanghai, had two birdies and a bogey in the first nine holes but raced up the leaderboard with four consecutive birdies at Nos. 5-8.

Donaldson's round included a back nine that showed an eagle 2 at the 16th, four birdies and two bogeys.

The tournament is on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour calendars.

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