McIlroy, Berger and Ancer share first-round lead at Hero World Challenge

By Sports Desk December 02, 2021

Rory McIlroy earned a share of the first-round lead after the former world number one carded a six-under-par 66 at the Hero World Challenge.

McIlroy – winner of October's CJ Cup – was almost flawless on the opening day as the four-time major champion joined Daniel Berger and Abraham Ancer a stroke clear atop the leaderboard.

McIlroy had an eagle, six birdies and a double-bogey at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas on Thursday.

"It was nice to play the back nine the way I did and put myself back in the tournament," said McIlroy, who did not drop a shot on the back nine with three birdies and an eagle, which he improbably chipped in.

Berger boasted a four-shot advantage at one point in the first round after bursting out the blocks with four consecutive birdies, though two bogeys on the back nine undid some of that good work.

But McIlroy and Ancer ensured the American must share the lead entering Friday's second round, the former going five-under following the turn at the PGA Tour tournament.

Fellow leader Ancer finished in similar style, despite also faltering with a bogey on the ninth, recording five birdies after the halfway point to join the group on six under.

It looked like there would be a different leader, however, with American star Justin Thomas a shot in front until the final hole, which he double-bogeyed.

Brooks Koepka – a four-time major champion – joins the 2017 PGA Championship winner after registering 67, with Webb Simpson also a shot off the initial mark.

The quality on display does not stop there, with Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa all managing 68 to sit two shots off the three-man leading pack ahead of day two.

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    Looking for his sixth individual title on the PGA Tour, the reigning Olympic champion began the day with a five-stroke lead and went two-under over the front nine to help set up a career-best run of 48 holes without a bogey.

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    He recovered to retake the solo lead however, claiming birdies on the 16th and 17th hole, hitting the pin on his approach and one-putting on the latter.

    Schauffele leads by a solitary shot on 17-under from close friend Patrick Cantlay, who charged up the leaderboard on Saturday with a bogey-free, seven-under 63.

    The two formed a close bond after being paired at the 2019 Presidents Cup and along with pairing up again at the Ryder Cup, took out this year's Zurich Classic together.

    The reigning FedEx Cup champion will be looking to claim his first individual title of 2022, though, after losing in playoffs this year to Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth at the Phoenix Open and the Heritage respectively.

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    "I didn't expect an eagle on number six, and didn't expect that birdie on 15 as well. I didn't expect the driver on the last to hit a tree, but to be fair, I pulled it a little bit. It was just another perfect day for me.

    "Tomorrow will be a tough day. I just need to hang on in there, play my game. Expect everything. I just need to get comfortable as much as possible."

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