PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy swung freely and walked briskly on his way to a 7-under 63 on Thursday, with birdies on the last two holes at PGA National giving him a one-shot lead over Russell Henley after the first round of the Honda Classic.
McIlroy was 7 over through eight holes last year when he became so frustrated with mounting expectations and a slumping game that he walked off the course in the middle of the second round. He said it was a mistake that he would never repeat.
It’s not something I really thought about out there, McIlroy said. Coming in this week, I knew that I was playing well and I just wanted to try and get off to a good start. ... Regardless of what happened last year or where it is, it’s always nice to shoot a round like this and get yourself in the mix early.
In first tournament in a month, Tiger Woods couldn’t make a birdie putt early and had to scramble for pars late in his round. A birdie on the last hole gave him a 71, leaving him eight shots behind.
Past champion Rory Sabbatini, William McGirt and Jamie Donaldson of Wales were at 65.
LPGA: In Singapore, Australia’s Karrie Webb shot a 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the HSBC Women’s Champions.
Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall and American Paula Creamer shot 67. American Angela Stanford, the 2012 winner, was another stroke back along with Taiwan’s Teresa Lu. Top-ranked Inbee Park opened with a 70.
EUROPEAN: In Centurion, South Africa, Simon Dyson birdied his last four holes in a 7-under 65 to take the clubhouse lead at the Tshwane Open. Trevor Fisher Jr. was also 7 under through 16 holes of his opening round before play was suspended because of a thunderstorm in Centurion.