Rory McIlroy storms to 1st round lead at WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai

Scott Halleran

Is the two-time major winner's form finally coming back in Asia?

While you were sleeping, or perhaps celebrating in Boston, there was an official PGA Tour and WGC event played in Shanghai. The first round of the 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions event teed off in primetime Wednesday in the United States, and when it came to a finish around 4 a.m. ET Thursday, Rory McIlroy had jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a 7-under round of 65.

It's the second straight round in the 60s for Rory, who looked to be in form earlier this week during a cash-and-giggles one-on-one exhibition match against Tiger Woods. McIlroy was No. 1 in the world this time last year, but his 2013 season was a disaster. He's showed some signs of improvement lately, posting some solid numbers in a string of tournaments in Asia this month. This event is technically a part of the PGA Tour's new 2014 wraparound schedule, but a WGC win would do plenty to redeem the miserable year and set the stage for a rebound next season.

McIlroy started on the back side at Sheshan International Golf Club, and it was apparent right away that he had his game together. The Northern Irishman rolled in six birdies on the opening side, dropping one with a bogey to go out with a sparkling 32. A bogey-free 33 coming in sealed the two-shot lead in Shanghai.

Rory's had these flashes of old form at several points this season, but can he now back it up with three more against a typically deep WGC field. Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth are two Americans in the mix on the first page of the leaderboard, just three shots off the pace. It appears Spieth won't be slowing down at all in his sophomore season, and contention at a WGC is just the next logical step for America's best young star.

Here are the full results from the opening round in China:

Place Player Score
1 Rory MCILROY -7
T2 Gonzalo FERNANDEZ-CASTANO -5
T2 Jamie DONALDSON -5
T4 Jordan SPIETH -4
T4 Tommy FLEETWOOD -4
T4 Bubba WATSON -4
T4 Justin ROSE -4
T8 Scott HEND -3
T8 Paul CASEY -3
T8 Kiradech APHIBARNRAT -3
T8 Ernie ELS -3
T8 Dustin JOHNSON -3
T8 Graeme MCDOWELL -3
T8 Gaganjeet BHULLAR -3
T15 Jonas BLIXT -2
T15 Martin KAYMER -2
T15 Ryan MOORE -2
T15 Ken DUKE -2
T15 WenYi HUANG -2
T15 Jin Jeong -2
T15 Kevin STREELMAN -2
T15 Peter HANSON -2
T15 Louis OOSTHUIZEN -2
T15 Boo WEEKLEY -2
T15 Sergio GARCIA -2
T15 Luke DONALD -2
T15 Darren FICHARDT -2
T28 Derek ERNST -1
T28 Peter UIHLEIN -1
T28 Lee WESTWOOD -1
T28 Graham DELAET -1
T28 Ian POULTER -1
T28 Billy HORSCHEL -1
T28 Chris WOOD -1
T28 Hideki MATSUYAMA -1
T28 Brian GAY -1
T28 Phil MICKELSON -1
T28 Keegan BRADLEY -1
T39 Michael HENDRY E
T39 Francesco MOLINARI E
T39 Bill HAAS E
T39 Scott PIERCY E
T39 David HOWELL E
T39 Jaco VAN ZYL E
T39 Mark BROWN E
T39 John MERRICK E
T39 Wen-chong LIANG E
T39 D.A. POINTS E
T39 Matteo MANASSERO E
T39 Mikko ILONEN E
T39 Hao Tong LI E
T52 Jimmy WALKER 1
T52 Brandt SNEDEKER 1
T52 Stephen GALLACHER 1
T52 Jason DUFNER 1
T52 Masahiro KAWAMURA 1
T57 Richard STERNE 2
T57 Thomas BJORN 2
T57 Henrik STENSON 2
T57 David LYNN 2
T57 Ashun WU 2
T57 Rickie FOWLER 2
T57 Michael THOMPSON 2
T64 Brett RUMFORD 3
T64 George COETZEE 3
T64 Hiroyuki FUJITA 3
T64 Miguel Angel JIMENEZ 3
T64 Nick WATNEY 3
T64 Gregory BOURDY 3
T70 Mu HU 4
T70 Thongchai JAIDEE 4
T72 Daniel POPOVIC 5
T72 Bo VAN PELT 5
T72 Branden GRACE 5
T75 Seuk-hyun BAEK 9
T75 Raphael JACQUELIN 9
T75 Ryo ISHIKAWA 9
78 Ming-Jie HUANG 11

More from SB Nation Golf:

Tiger blasted for skipping tourney in China

Amazing photos of Rory, Duf, and Phil at Shanghai promo

Tiger challenges Golf Channel over Chamblee's 'cheating' implication

Ailing Woods loses to Rory in one-on-one match | EA Sports, Tiger split

Phil's playing fewer events, eyes U.S. Open win

Ryan Moore takes playoff, wins inaugural FedExCup event in Asia

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