Rory McIlroy and Quail Hollow are a match made in heaven.
The long — even by today’s standards — 7,500-yard par-71 course has treated McIlroy well with the Northern Irishman having won the Wells Fargo Championship twice and finishing inside the top-10 on four other occasions.
Playing in the afternoon wave in Thursday’s first round, McIlroy played an even-par opening nine holes before stringing together back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11.
Following a wayward drive on the par-4 12th, it looked as if McIlroy were destined to give back one of those strokes to par after he seemed to be stymied behind a pair of trees. However, McIlroy was able to hit a crazy hold-off cut from 154 yards to four feet.
He was unable to pay off the ridiculous recovery shot, missing the short birdie putt, but he did put three more circles on his card between holes 14 and 16 to get to 5-under par and a share of the first round lead.
“Every time I step onto this golf course, I feel like I have chance to shoot a good score,” McIlroy said after the round. “I didn’t play my best today. I sort of managed my game well, scrambled well, but it added up to a good number at the end of the day.”
He enters Friday’s second round tied with Joel Dahmen, who also shot a 5-under par 66. Patrick Reed headlines the group of players one shot back at 4-under par.