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Rory McIlroy keeps the ball in play and opens with a 67 at Quail Hollow

  • Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)The Associated Press

  • Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the fourth hole during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)The Associated Press

  • Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, stretches on the fourth tee during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)The Associated Press

  • Phil Mickelson reacts after making a birdie putt on the 13th hole during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)The Associated Press

  • Phil Mickelson watches his approach shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)The Associated Press

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 and set up plenty of birdie chances at Quail Hollow. He ran off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn for a 5-under 67 that left him in a large group atop the leaderboard as the first round was winding down.

Two of the putting surfaces had to be entirely replaced with sod last week and the others are ragged. McIlroy's final birdie from 8 feet on the 18th hole bounced more than it rolled.

Nick Watney, Ryan Moore, Derek Ernst, Daniel Summerhays and Robert Garrigus also were at 67. The group one shot behind included Phil Mickelson and Lucas Glover.