Rory McIlroy, Daniel Berger and Abraham Ancer shot 6-under 66 Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Hero World Challenge in Albany, Bahamas.
A field of 20 of the world’s premier golfers is competing at Albany Golf Course at an event organized by Tiger Woods to benefit his charity, the TGR Foundation.
The leading trio is one shot ahead of three players at 5 under: Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka.
McIlroy, the four-time major champion from Northern Ireland, recovered from a double-bogey at the par-5 ninth hole by making two straight birdies before an eagle 2 at No. 14. From just off the green, he chipped up a slope and his ball immediately found the pin.
He shot a 31 on the back nine and finished with six birdies on the day.
“I think I played well enough to shoot a better score than that,” McIlroy said. “I played the par-5s in even par. Five par-5s here, I should be taking care of those, so that’s something I’m gonna need to do over the next three days.”
Mexico’s Ancer rolled in five birdies on his back nine to reach 66.
“I’m happy with pretty much all of my bag,” Ancer said. “I feel like I hit it great off the tee … Iron play was pretty solid as well, but probably the highlight was definitely my putter. I rolled it nicely today.”
Berger opened his round with four straight birdies and added a fifth at No. 7 to go out in 31. He added an eagle at the par-5 11th hole to reach 7 under and at one point held a three-stroke lead before a 1-over finish from there.
It was Berger’s first competitive round since suiting up for Team USA in its Ryder Cup win in September.
“I took a little over a month completely off from golf. Didn’t touch a golf club,” Berger said. “And then slowly started ramping it up. In the last two or three weeks I’ve been playing more golf here and there, and then the last 10 days I played every day. I’ve been playing really nicely.
“It’s just tough when you haven’t played competitively to kind of get back in the rhythm of things, but obviously I got off to a good start and then that made it easier.”
Thomas reached 7 under for his round late in the day with a stretch of three birdies at Nos. 14-16, but a double bogey on the last hole sent him down to the tie for fourth.
Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa and Norway’s Viktor Hovland are tied for seventh at 4-under 68.
–Field Level Media