SHANGHAI (AFP) - World No.6 Rory McIlroy found himself leading a tournament for the first time since May, as he took control of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions with a superbly crafted seven-under-par round of 65 in Shanghai on Thursday.
The 24-year-old was helped by world No.3 Phil Mickelson blowing up in disastrous fashion on the long eighth hole, the 17th of his round, as the American found the Sheshan Golf Club water twice en route to a quadruple-bogey nine.
On Wednesday, McIlroy had said he was capable of winning the tournament with the way the course was set up. A day later, the Northern Irishman proved it was no idle boast as his swagger and, more importantly, his short game returned to leave a field containing 40 of the world's top 50 in his wake.
The former world No.1 leads by two from Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who carried on his fine form from last week when he won the BMW Masters across the city, by carding a five-under round of 67. Also on 67 was Jamie Donaldson of Wales.