Golf: McIlroy headlines group of 7 tied for first at Wells Fargo
Charlotte, N.C. • For all the talk about the greens, Rory McIlroy's most important club was his driver Thursday in the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy kept the ball in play at Quail Hollow and gave himself plenty of birdie chances on a cloudy, soft afternoon. He ran off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn and finished with an 8-foot birdie putt for a 5-under 67 to share the lead with six other players.
It was the first time this year McIlroy has been atop the leaderboard after any round, and the first time he broke par in the opening round.
"Now that I feel like I'm swinging it well, this is the sort of golf I expect to play," McIlroy said.
Nick Watney, Ryan Moore, Robert Garrigus and PGA Tour rookie Derek Ernst shot 67 in the morning. Former BYU golfer Daniel Summerhays and Nate Smith, a Monday qualifier, joined McIlroy by posting their 67s in the afternoon.
Phil Mickelson and Lucas Glover were in a large group at 68, with 19-year-old Jordan Spieth in another big group at 69.
The talk going into the Wells Fargo Championship was the shape of the greens. Two of the putting surfaces had to be entirely replaced by sod just a week ago the 10th green had to be sodded twice and the other greens were ragged. Some had ugly patches of brown where there was no grass. But they weren't as bad as players feared, and there wasn't much public grumbling, mainly because Quail Hollow has a history of being in pristine shape and players seemed willing to accept this is an exceptionally bad year.
"It was fine," Boo Weekley said after his 68. "First off, they were pretty smooth. It ain't 100 percent, but I mean they're good enough to play golf on."
Thai teen Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 7-under 64 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the LPGA Tour's Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va.
The 17-year-old Jutanugarn was 8 under through 16 holes, but pulled her drive and had a double bogey on the par-3 17th before rebounding with her ninth birdie of the day on the par-4 finishing hole.
Cristie Kerr, the only-two time winner in the tour's eight previous visits to the River Course, had six birdies and one bogey in a 66 that put her alone in second place.
Wells Fargo Championship
Ryan Moore -5
Nick Watney -5
Robert Garrigus -5
Derek Ernst -5
Rory McIlroy -5
Daniel Summerhays -5
Nate Smith -5