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New PGA Tour season begins with McIlroy in wine country

NAPA, Calif. — The Open was everything Rory McIlroy thought it would be before the tournament even started.

He knew nothing about Silverado Resort, which is hosting the PGA Tour season opener for the second year, except that it was in the middle of California's most famous wine country.

"Expected vineyards, wine, good food," McIlroy said Wednesday. "Got all those boxes ticked (Tuesday) night."

After he opened with 4-under 68 Thursday, he said, "Trying to find a balance between not feeling too hung over when you tee it up."

Brendan Steele shot 9-under 63 for a one-shot lead over Jhonattan Vegas. Twenty-eight players shot 68 or better, and one-third of the field was in the 60s. Three did not finish due to darkness.

The tour is in its second year of having a wraparound schedule, with the season starting in October and ending the following September. When this season started Thursday, it had been 18 days since the previous one ended.

McIlroy said he feels his "new season" started in August when he returned from two months of healing an injured ankle. After the Open, he heads to Asia for three events to end the season on the European Tour. Then he gets two months off. "I feel like I'm in the middle of a nice little run to the end of the year," he said. "I guess for a lot of guys, even the guys that played a full PGA Tour schedule last season, then played the Presidents Cup and they're coming here, it's a lot of golf. I haven't played as much … so I'm happy to be playing … quite a bit until the end of the year."

LPGA: South Korea's Sung Hyun Park shot a course-record 10-under 62 for a four-stroke lead at the Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, South Korea. Making her first tour start, Park, 22, played alongside Michelle Wie (71) and Lexi Thompson (68), and often drove past the long-hitting U.S. stars. Gerina Piller and Charley Hull were tied for second at 66.

New PGA Tour season begins with McIlroy in wine country 10/15/15 [Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2015 10:54pm]
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