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McIlroy helps Ireland to World Cup lead

Graeme McDowell, left, and Rory McIlroy were all smiles after a sizzling opening round in China.
Graeme McDowell, left, and Rory McIlroy were all smiles after a sizzling opening round in China.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy helps Ireland surge to a three-shot lead at the World Cup teams event in China
  • The 20-year-old and Graeme McDowell card a sizzling 14-under-par 58 in first round
  • They fall just one shot short of the event's fourballs record to lead Argentina
  • Japan third on 10-under while Spain surprisingly languish at the bottom of 28-nation field
RELATED TOPICS
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Ireland
  • Argentina
  • Japan
  • Golf

(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy bounced back from his disappointing end to the European Tour season by helping Ireland surge to a three-shot lead at the World Cup teams event in China on Thursday.

The 20-year-old, who was overhauled by Race To Dubai winner Lee Westwood in the final week, combined with Graeme McDowell to set the opening-round fourballs best of 14-under-par 58 at the Mission Hills club's Olazabal course in Shenzhen.

McIlroy's eagle at the par-five 15th hole was the highlight of a flawless round which also featured 12 birdies and fell just one shot shy of the event record.

Argentina's Rafa Echenique and Tano Goya set the early pace with a 61 that included an eagle at 15, but McIlroy and McDowell stormed past them as they finished with three successive birdies.

"We got off to a great start and birdied the holes we had to on the front nine where there are three par-fives," McIlroy told reporters.

"And from there we kept it going and birdied the holes other teams weren't getting birdies on. We didn't have any mistakes and we had a look at two birdie chances on most holes, and most of the time we took one of them.

"It was great team play and no-one really put each other under pressure, and I think that showed in the way the scores went."

We birdied the holes other teams weren't getting birdies on
--Rory McIlroy

Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita and Ryuji Imada were in third place on 10-under 60, while defending champions Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson of Sweden were in a group of four tied for fourth on eight under alongside Italy, Canada and Korea.

China and South Africa were another shot back, while England's strong team of Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher posted a disappointing 66 to be tied in a group including Germany's Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka plus the Danish duo of Soren Hansen and Soren Kjeldsen.

Spain were surprisingly at the bottom of the 28-team field, tied with Scotland, Pakistan and Chile, after world No. 8 Sergio Garcia and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano carded a 69 which featured two bogeys on the back nine.