Rory McIlroy’s score of 66 was enough to share the lead with Daniel Berger and Abraham Ancer after round one of the Hero World Challenge (McIlroy 10/3 – Hero World Challenge Outright).
The Northern Irishman looked at home at the Albany resort in the Bahamas, despite playing the event for the first time since 2013.
McIlroy birdied three of the first five holes but then lost some momentum when he double-bogeyed the 9th. Back-to-back birdies and an eagle at the par-four 14th got him rolling again, before he birdied the 15th to give himself the chance of leading after round one.
American Justin Thomas (6/1 Outright) would have had the lead, but he closed with a double bogey on the last, meaning he is now tied with countrymen Webb Simpson and Brooks Koepka.
Ancer and Berger also looked sharp during round one on Thursday, and McIlroy says he is up for the battle, with his game in a good place at present.
“I was really proud of myself after that double bogey,” McIlroy said. “I played the back nine five-under. That was a good response to that little setback.
“I played the par-fives at par. That’s not good enough to win out here. I can’t rely upon doing what I did today over the next three days.
“I set my standards a little higher than that, but I think I turned a corner after the Ryder Cup.
“My game today has been a continuation of how I’ve felt. I left a few out there today. Overall. the game is feeling a lot better.”
Only 20 players are competing at the invitational event, with Henrik Stenson and Harris English the only two not to break par on Thursday.