Rory McIlroy played like a guy who has won twice at Quail Hollow Club www.quailhollowclub.com.
The fourth-ranked McIlroy, the only two-time winner in tournament history, shot 5-under-par 66 and is tied for the lead with Joel Dahmen after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.
“Every time I step onto this golf course, I feel like I have chance to shoot a good score,” said McIlroy, who will turn 30 on Saturday. “I didn’t play my best today. … I felt like my short game was really good. I don’t think I drove the ball particularly well, but hit some nice chip shots and made some putts.
“I’ve been working on a few different things lately and it was nice to hit some good shots coming down the stretch on some very difficult holes. I felt like I managed my game well and wound up with a good score.”
McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, was even par through nine holes before reeling off five birdies on the first seven holes of the back nine, the last three in a row. The highlight was his tee shot from 119 yards to within two feet of the par-3 11th hole.
Dahmen, 31, whose only two professional victories came on the PGA Tour Canada in 2014, sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the final hole to cap his bogey-free 66 and tie for the lead.
“Golf is awesome because on any given week or given day, anybody can beat anybody,” said Dahmen, whose best finish this year was a tie for ninth in the Farmer Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. “I played as well as Rory today and I beat everybody else in the field. That’s great and there’s no reason I can’t do that for three more days.”
Patrick Reed, trying to snap out of season-long slump, posted a bogey-free 67 and is in a tie for third with Martin Laird of Scotland, Adam Schenk, Dylan Fritelli of South Africa and Nick Taylor of Canada.
Defending champion Jason Day of Australia collected four birdies while finishing his 68 on the back nine and is tied for seventh with 2017 Wells Fargo champion Brian Harman, Jason Dufner, Keith Mitchell, John Senden of Australia, Vaughn Taylor, Sebastian Munoz of Colombia, Jim Knous and Brendon Todd.
Second-ranked Justin Rose of England opened with a 70 and is in a tie for 27th that includes Lucas Glover, the 2011 winner at Quail Hollow, while 10th-ranked Rickie Fowler shot 71 and is in a tie for 47th that includes Phil Mickelson.
J.B. Holmes, the 2014 champion, struggled to an 80 and is 155th, or dead last.
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