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McIlroy shoots 65 to lead WGC-HSBC Champions

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Maybe Tiger Woods was right. Rory McIlroy shot 7-under 65 Thursday to grab the opening-round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China.

After falling to McIlroy in a China exhibition match earlier in the week, Woods said he thought McIlroy might win before the end of 2013. The Northern Irishman is off to a promising start.

Leaderboard: Rory McIlroy (-7), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (-5), Jamie Donaldson (-5), Jordan Spieth (-4), Bubba Watson (-4), Justin Rose (-4), Tommy Fleetwood (-4)

What it means:  McIlroy has turned the calendar. It might still be 2013, but McIlroy is putting behind him a dismal campaign and embracing the start to the 2013-14 schedule.

Round of the day: McIlroy’s 65. Starting at the par-4 10th, he was 6 under through 11 holes. He stalled a bit in the middle of his round, but birdied the par-5 eighth, his 17th, to move two clear of the field. It tied his second-lowest score of the year (64 in Round 3 of the Deutsche Bank Championship).

Best of the rest: Fresh off a win last week at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, Fernandez-Castano, who started on the back nine, birdied Nos. 5-8 to finish with a 67.

Biggest disappointment:  Phil Mickelson. Lefty was at 6 under, one shot off the lead, with two holes to play. He then hit two shots in the water on the par-5 eighth en route to a quadruple bogey-9 and another shot into the drink on the ninth for a bogey. He finished at 1-under 71.

Main storyline heading into Day 2: Can McIlroy continue his resurgence? He hasn’t won on Tour since the 2012 BMW Championship and has shot back-to-back rounds in the 60s only once this year, on the PGA and European tours combined.

Shot of the day: Jason Dufner holed a wedge from 110 yards on his first hole of the tournament, the par-4 10th.

Quote of the day: “I feel good. I’m controlling my ball much better. … It’s getting there, but it’s only one round. It’s a great start.” – Rory McIlroy