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Rory flashes 63 at PGA National to lead Honda

First Round – PGA Tour – Honda Classic – PGA National – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida –

Rory McIlroy made a triumphant return to PGA National firing a 7-under-63.

McIlroy, No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking, was bogey-free on his round and takes the overnight lead at the Honda Classic. He leads Russell Henley by a shot and Rory Sabbatini by two shots.

Rory was this title in 2012 before withdrawing last year citing a tooth ache. Sabbatini is a past champion at PGA National as well. He was the title in 2011. The layout plays right into the “Horses for Courses” saying.

Former World No. 1 Luke Donald won here in 2006 and was a runner-up in 2008. He shot 67 and sits T-11 alongside Zach Johnson and Matteo Manassero. Players with more control, than power generally conquered PGA National in round one.

Several high-profile players struggled out of the gate including Phil Mickelson (T-57), Tiger Woods (T-81) and Henrik Stenson (T-121).

McIlroy was the betting favorite coming into the Florida Swing at 8-to-1 odds, according to Ladbrokes.com.

Boy Wonder shot an opening-round 63 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January on the European Tour. It was his best round in three years. But, he failed to convert eventually shooting 74 in the final round to finish T-9.

Other Golf News:

  • Karrie Webb shot 66 in the opening round of the LPGA Tour’s HSBC Women’s Champions. She leads by a shot in Singapore. Webb won the Australian Open two weeks ago.
  • Pre-tournament favorites at The Honda Classic – including Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel – need solid Friday rounds to make the weekend cut. Garcia shot 72 Thursday, while Schwartzel carded a 74.
  • Woods managed three birdies Thursday, but a pair of bogeys and a double bogey left him at 1-over-71. His early-season woes appear to be continuing.
  • Tim Rosaforte (Golf Digest/Golf World and an analyst for Golf Channel and NBC Sports) was honored with the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.