LOS ANGELES – Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy is back in his comfort zone at the Wells Fargo Championship, firing a five-under 66 on Thursday to grab a share of the first-round lead with Joel Dahmen.
McIlroy earned his first career USPGA Tour victory at the Quail Hollow golf course in 2010, and is the only two-time winner of the event.
After shooting even par on the front nine, McIlroy surged up the leaderboard on the back nine in Charlotte, North Carolina in five-under 31 with the help of five birdies over a seven-hole stretch.
The golf course “went through different iterations since we started coming here, but every time they tweak something here or there, you know, it's still sort of the same place and it really fits my eye,” McIlroy said. “I think it's the purest golf course we play all year in terms of preparation and how manicured it is.
“It just has a really nice feel about it. I've always felt comfortable here. I've obviously got good memories.”
McIlroy finished tied for 21st at The Masters this year after reaching the top 10 in seven straight PGA tournaments. During that stretch he captured his first Players Championship crown.
This is the fifth time McIlroy has led at the end of a round at Quail Hollow, which moves him past Tiger Woods for the most all-time.
Oddly, McIlroy didn't hold the first-round lead in either of his Wells Fargo wins. He was five shots behind in 2015 and seven shots adrift in 2010.
Five players are just one shot off the pace, including 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed. Adam Schenk, Scotland's Martin Laird, Canada's Nick Taylor and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are also one stroke back.
Australia's Jason Day, who is seeking to defend a title on the USPGA Tour for the first time, is at three under. He shot 68, including five birdies.
Day was paired with Phil Mickelson, who is tied for 47th after an even-par round of 71.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)