Branden Grace sets record as McIlroy shines

Branden Grace made birdie on half of his holes for a 9-under 6. Picture: AP
Branden Grace made birdie on half of his holes for a 9-under 6. Picture: AP
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Rory McIlroy finally climbed out of bed ten pounds lighter from a bout of food poisoning and made six birdies for a 68 in the first round at Sheshan International yesterday. Jordan Spieth returned from his longest break without touching his golf clubs. He also had six birdies in a round of 68.

It just wasn’t enough to be anywhere near the lead.

Branden Grace made birdie on half of his holes for a 9-under 63, the lowest opening round in the 11-year history of the World Golf Championship. And all that got him was a one-shot lead.

“Today was phenomenal out there,” Grace said. “Barely had a breath of wind and the golf course is playing probably as easy as it could be playing. There’s some low scores out there. The guys are playing some great golf, and when you play on greens like this, it helps. You just have to get the ball on the right line and it goes in. It was fun.”

l Phil Mickelson has split from coach Butch Harmon after eight years together, a spell which included two of the left-hander’s five major championship wins.

Mickelson, who flew to Las Vegas last week to tell Harmon in person, said in a statement: “I’ve learned a great deal from him. It’s just that at the moment I need to hear new ideas from a different perspective.”