McIlroy hits the front in Shanghai

Rory McIlroy enjoyed one of his best rounds of a disappointing season to storm into a two-shot lead over a star-studded field at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament on Thursday.

Displaying a deft short game with a new lob wedge, McIlroy reeled off eight birdies en route to a first round seven-under-par 65 at the World Golf Championship event in Sheshan.
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Welshman Jamie Donaldson are tied for second on five-under, one ahead of a group of four players that includes American prospect Jordan Spieth and Briton Justin Rose.

After cruising along nicely for 16 holes, British Open champion and two-time winner of this event Phil Mickelson looked primed to challenge McIlroy's lead until he suffered a dramatic late-round meltdown to fall off the pace.

The left-hander dropped four strokes at the par-five eighth, his 17th, where he twice found the pond in front of the green, and also dropped a shot at the ninth after pulling his second into the water for a one-under 71.

McIlroy, on the other hand, had no such misadventures with his only dropped shot coming on the 11th hole, his second of the round.

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