Published January 13, 2015
Former champion Rory McIlroy carded a 5-under 67 on Thursday to grab a share of the lead after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy was joined there by Robert Garrigus, Ryan Moore, Nick Watney, Nate Smith, Derek Ernst and Daniel Summerhays.
Phil Mickelson, who finished second behind McIlroy in 2010, opened with a 68. He shares eighth place with Boo Weekley, 2011 champ Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Kevin Streelman and Jason Kokrak.
Jordan Spieth and Russell Henley are among nine players tied for 14th place at minus-3 at Quail Hollow Club.
McIlroy collected his first PGA Tour title at this event in 2010. He opened his first round with four straight pars. McIlroy followed with four consecutive birdies from the fifth.
The reigning PGA Champion faltered to a bogey at the ninth. Around the turn, McIlroy rebounded with birdies at 10 and 11. He gave another stroke back as he tripped to a bogey at the par-4 12th.
McIlroy, who birdied or bogeyed eight in row, parred five straight from the 13th. The Ulsterman closed with an 8-foot birdie putt at the 18th to grab a share of the lead.
"I feel a lot more comfortable with my swing and a lot more comfortable with where my game is at, so that's always going to make it easier. But I love this golf course. I seem to play well around here, so that is also an added benefit," McIlroy said. "I gave myself plenty of chances and I'm really happy with the day."
Garrigus started his round on the 10th tee Thursday and he birdied the first two holes. He later traded a birdie for a bogey from the 15th. After eight consecutive pars, Garrigus eagled the par-5 seventh. He birdied the ninth to close out his round of 67.
Moore, who shared fifth place last year, did all of his scoring in a 7-hole span. He parred the first eight holes, then notched back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 to get on the board.
The 30-year-old parred 11 and 12 before converting his third birdie effort of the round at the par-3 13th. Moore came right back with birdies at 14 and 15 to grab a share of the lead. He parred the final three holes to end there.
"It was a really good ball striking day for me," Moore stated. "I just gave myself opportunities all the way around. Obviously, I wasn't able to convert all of them, but I made enough to keep some good, positive momentum throughout the round and just really carried it through the back side."
Watney, who matched the 36-hole scoring record last year, parred his first nine holes from the 10th. On the front nine, he birdied three in a row from the first. Watney converted consecutive birdie tries at seven and eight and parred the ninth to end at minus-5.
Smith had five birdies in a 7-hole span from the fourth to the 10th. He birdied the 16th to take the outright lead, but missed the green on the par-3 17th and that led to a bogey, which dropped him back into the group tied at 5- under.
Ernst traded a birdie for a bogey three times in his round, and the first time was at 10 and 11, his first two holes. Ernst birdied four in a row from the 14th to get within one of the lead.
On the front nine, he countered birdies at one and five with bogeys on the second and sixth. Ernst birdied the par-4 eighth to end at 5-under par.
Summerhays birdied the first, but gave that shot back when he bogeyed the fourth. He poured in four straight birdies from the fifth. On the back nine, Summerhays had three birdies and two bogeys to end in a tie atop the leaderboard.
NOTES: Defending champion Rickie Fowler opened with an even-par 72, which left him tied for 53rd ... Seven players tied for the first-round lead is the most since nine shared the opening round lead at the 2011 Northern Trust Open... Sean O'Hair (2009) is the fourth former winner in the field, and he stands alongside Fowler at even-par ... Erik Compton assessed himself a 2-stroke penalty in round one. He drove into the water on the seventh and after hitting his next shot on the green, Compton realized he hit a different type of golf ball than he started the round with. The penalty pushed him down to 4-over for the day, and that's where he ended.