US Open winner McIlroy shocked the world by sacking his long-time manager Chubby Chandler last week, but the managerial change did not impact his focus as he completed the opening round in a brilliant manner.
The 22-year-old Northern Irishman swamped the field with an eight under par 64, vying for the $2 million prize purse at the exhibition event.
Three-time PGA Tour event winner Hunter Mahan of America fired a seven-under-par 65 to take second position on the leaderboard. Paul Casey and Ian Poulter of England both shot five-under 67 to tie for third with three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
McIlroy got paired with world No. 2 Lee Westwood at the Lake Malaren Golf Club designed by Jack Nicklaus though the golfers had a falling out after McIlroy suddenly sacked Chubby Chandler, the agent which they had previously shared.
Englishman Westwood called the Irishman’s decision ‘bizarre’ in a tweet but seemed to go a little softer on Rory during the competition and even gave him advice on the 15th hole. As for Westwood’s performance, he had a good initial run but failed to keep his end up at the end and came in eighth after the opening round.
Other big golf names attracted to the $ 2 million prize tournament were China’s Li Chao, America’s Anthony Kim, Charl Schwartzel and Bradley Keegan. No matter how they will finish, they are guaranteed a $25,000 check at the end.