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McIlroy shoots 65, leads by two in China

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Rory McIlroy leads the way at the WGC-HSBC Champions after a first-round 65, a 7-under total that gives him a 2-shot cushion over Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Jamie Donaldson at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai.

It’s a hopeful start for the former No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, who struggled mightily with his swing on 2013. But the 24-year-old struck the ball much better in an exhibition match against Tiger Woods on Monday, and gave himself a “seven-out-of-ten rating” for his ball striking in Round 1.

” It was good,” McIlroy said after the round. “It felt good to be out there and be in control of my golf ball. Gave myself a lot of looks for birdies.”

According to McIlroy, his game started coming around two weeks ago at the Korea Open, where he finished 1-shot back of South Korea’s Sung-hoon Kang. He said he drove the ball great but struggled with his short game. Last week at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, McIlroy said he saw even more progress, but didn’t hole enough putts to win.

McIlroy is in the process of adjusting to new equipment, but the changes are nothing compared to the 14-club-and-ball switch he made to start the 2013 season. In the bag in Shanghai is a Nike Covert 2.0 driver that he says he feels very comfortable with, a fresh lob wedge and Nike’s 2014 RZN prototype ball that has a softer cover than the 2013 Nike 20XI-X he played in 2013.

Click here to see all the clubs in Mcilroy’s bag.

This year’s WGC-HSBC Championship features an extremely strong field, with just about all of the world’s best players in attendance except No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods and No. 2-ranked Adam Scott. Jordan Spieth, the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2013, is three shots back of McIlroy at 4-under. The 20-year-old, who is playing in his first WGC event, started the first round 2-over through eight holes, but recovered with six birdies and no bogeys over his final 11 holes.

Also close to the lead are Bubba Watson and Justin rose, at 4-under, along with 22-year-old Tommy Fleetwood, an Englishman with a celebrated amateur career who won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August.

Defending champion Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson shot matching rounds of 1-under, while last week’s CIMB Classic winner Ryan Moore opened with around of 2-under.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2020 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live from Sea Island Golf Club in St,. Simons Island, Georgia for the RSM Classic.

Coming the week after the Masters, plenty of players from the tournament in Augusta are making their way 3.5 hours South to the Davis Love III-hosted event.

We have six general galleries of photos for you to check out as well as new shafts from UST Mamiya and a welcome resurrection of two decade-old White Hot putter models.

General Galleries

Other Galleries

See what GolfWRXers and join the discussion in the forums: 2020 RSM Classic WITB Photos- discussion

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2020 Houston Open

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GolfWRX is live from the Vivint Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course, where players who, well, like to play before majors are playing (including Mav McNealy with some vintage Nike blades in the featured image).

The likes of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson will be making their final tune-ups before next week’s test at Augusta National.

On the subject of tuning, players who will be competing at ANGC are getting their bags dialed and those who won’t are free to experiment as they start to consider their 2021 artillery.

General galleries

Special galleries

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Interesting photos from the Zozo Championship

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This week is the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Golf Club, and with most of the worlds top golfers including Tiger Woods playing and prepping for the November Masters, there is a lot going on around the range when it comes to gear and testing.

As a reminder, you can check out all of our photos in the GolfWRX forums.

New Fourteen irons and wedges

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The irons are a throwback to a classic “channel back” style iron with mass positioned towards the top and bottom of the face to increase vertical stability of the blade while also maintaining feel.

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Justin Rose with Artisan lob wedge

The little shop from Texas continues to make big waves with more wedges spotted on tour every week including in former world number 1 Justin Rose.

Xander Schauffele’s new Apex irons and testing putters on Quintic

Xander’s prototype Callaway Apex irons look a lot like the newly released 2021 X-Forged irons but with obvious Apex branding. We also can’t forget about putting, and it’s cool to see a Quintic high-speed camera system on the practice green getting players dialed in to launch conditions just like how they would for a driver.

Ricky using older generation Cobra Amp Cell Pro Irons

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If there is one thing pros love, it’s a set of older irons—they’re the golf equivalent of putting on a pair of comfy broken-in jeans. For Ricky and his custom Amp Cell Pro’s with tungsten toe inserts, there must be some magic there because he has previously used multiple newer sets of irons but continues to gravitate towards these.

Hideki Maruyama testing new Bettinardi putter

Hideki isn’t someone to shy away from testing putters, and this week he was spotted testing one of the new Bettinardi putters that debuted last week in Las Vegas at Shadow Creek.

Pros are “just like us” – Justin Thomas and Mac Hughes edition

Yes, tour pros are just like us except for the fact that they are exceptional golfers, but even JT likes help in his long game and has a Titleist T300 3-iron in the bag, and when it comes to breakfast Mackenzie Hughes happens to like ketchup with his breakfast sandwich—although personally, I’m anti-ketchup when it comes to breakfast sandwiches.

Mickelson testing older X-Hot 3Deep

We’ve heard rumblings, of Champions Tour terminator Phil Mickelson testing 47.5″ drivers in the name of speed and distance, but as a way to also have a “fairway finder” it appears that he is contemplating putting his old X-Hot 3Deep in play. (Being able to identify a multi-generations old fairway wood from a distance based on its paint scheme is part of the reason we are WRX)

Gary Woodland testing Ping G425 driver

With the launch of the Ping G425 woods on tour a few weeks ago, it’s no surprise to see more players testing them in prep for the Masters, and for the fact that, they are the next evolution of the well-loved Ping G410—Gary Woodland is no exception.

 

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