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McIlroy in lead for rich top prize

SHANGHAI — U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy shot 8-under 64 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the Shanghai Masters, a lucrative invitational tournament that isn't sanctioned by any of the major tours.

McIlroy had eight birdies — five on the back nine — in his bogey-free round on Lake Malaren's Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters course.

"If I can play as solid for the next three days as I did (Thursday), I feel as if I'll be very difficult to beat," McIlroy said.

The 30 players are vying for the $2 million first prize, the richest in the sport. All the top players are getting appearance money, and last place pays $25,000. The event is run by International Management Group, a sports, fashion and media business.

Hunter Mahan was second, and Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Padraig Harrington were third at 67.

John Daly was in a group at 69 along with Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen, Y.E. Yang and Robert Karlsson.

"With a small field — and I think I may get in trouble for saying this — but I'm kind of glad it's not sanctioned by the European or PGA Tour," Daly said. "It shows that China is doing something on their own. They're saying, 'Hey, we may not need the PGA Tour or European Tour, no disrespect.' "

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shot 70, and PGA winner Keegan Bradley finished with 72.

Asia Pacific Classic: Robert Allenby shot 8-under 63 for a one-stroke lead over Jhonattan Vegas, who birdied the final four holes, after the first round of the second-year event sanctioned by the PGA and Asian tours in Selangor, Malaysia. Fredrik Jacobson opened with 65, and Bo Van Pelt, Cameron Tringale and Jimmy Walker were another stroke back.

McIlroy in lead for rich top prize 10/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:59pm]
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