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Rory McIlroy, showing signs of turning corner, takes the lead in Shanghai

  • Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off the 5th hole during the Pro-Am event of the HSBC Champions golf tournament, which begins on Thursday, at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (AP Photo)The Associated Press

  • Phil Mickelson of the United States tees off the 5th hole during the Pro-Am event of the HSBC Champions golf tournament, which begins on Thursday, at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (AP Photo)The Associated Press

Rory McIlroy found himself in a spot that must have seemed vaguely familiar — atop the leaderboard.

McIlroy looked more like a two-time major champion Thursday when he opened with a 7-under 65 to build a two-shot lead in HSBC Champions. McIlroy was at his best around the turn when he made four birdies in a five-hole stretch.

The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland has not won all year.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, coming off a win last week at the BMW Masters, and Jamie Donaldson each had 67. Jordan Spieth and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose were at 68.

British Open champion Phil Mickelson had a chance to join McIlroy in the lead until putting two balls in the water on the par-5 eighth hole and making a quadruple-bogey 9.