CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For all the talk about the greens, Rory McIlroy's most important club was his driver Thursday in the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy kept the ball in play at Quail Hollow and gave himself plenty of birdie chances on a cloudy, soft afternoon. He ran off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn and finished with an 8-foot birdie putt for 5-under 67 to share the lead with six other players.
It was the first time this year McIlroy has been atop the leaderboard after any round, and the first time he broke par in the opening round.
"Now that I feel like I'm swinging it well, this is the sort of golf I expect to play," he said.
Nick Watney, Ryan Moore, Robert Garrigus and PGA Tour rookie Derek Ernst shot 67 in the morning. Daniel Summerhays and Nate Smith, a Monday qualifier, joined McIlroy by posting their 67s in the afternoon.
Phil Mickelson and Lucas Glover were in a group at 68.
lpga: Ariya Jutanugarn was in attack mode at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. — and it paid off.
The 17-year-old Thai player birdied six of the first seven holes and was 8 under after 14 holes thanks to a short iron game that left her with short putt after short putt.
"I made a lot of shots," she said.
On the par-3 17th when she pulled her tee shot left, chunked her downhill approach short of the green, putted from the fringe well past the hole and missed the comebacker. The double bogey took her out of contention for tying the course record of 62, but she birdied 18 to cap a round with nine birdies to shoot 65 and lead by two.
The course was wet and players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls, and the scores reflected it with 56 players finishing below par.
Cristie Kerr had six birdies and one bogey and was alone in second at 66. So Yeon Ryu and Dewi Claire Schreefel shot 67, and top-ranked Inbee Park was among 14 at 68.
Kristy McPherson of Tampa shot 73 and Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 75.
age record: Ye Wocheng became the youngest player to compete on the European Tour, shooting 7-over 79 in the first round of the China Open in Tianjin. At 12 years, 242 days, Ye broke the record held by Guan Tianlang, who was 13 years, 177 days when he played in last year's China Open. Robert-Jan Derksen (66) leads by two.