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McIlroy edges Woods as star pair make fine start at Crooked Stick

updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri September 7, 2012
Rory McIlroy on the fifth tee at Crooked Stick with Tiger Woods in the background.
Rory McIlroy on the fifth tee at Crooked Stick with Tiger Woods in the background.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy well placed for back-to-back wins in FedExCup playoffs
  • McIlroy shoots eight-under 64 to tie for first-round lead at BMW Championship
  • Playing partner Tiger Woods also in the hunt after carding 65 on Thursday
  • U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Bo Van Pelt and Graham DeLaet also shoot 64

(CNN) -- World No. 1 Rory McIlroy continued his superb form on the PGA Tour with a eight-under-par 64 to share the lead in the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Thursday.

McIlroy came into the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs off the back of his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship and was in no mood to rest on his laurels, firing seven birdies and an eagle in the first round against a single bogey.

The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland rolled home a six-foot birdie putt on the ninth, his final hole, to join U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Bo Van Pelt and Canadian Graeme DeLaet in the clubhouse lead.

Playing partner Tiger Woods drained a long birdie putt on the par-five hole to be one back on 65 as the pair treated the galleries in Indiana to a real treat.

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McIlroy has not looked back since claiming the final major of 2012 at the U.S. PGA Championship, and his friendly rivalry with Woods is becoming a feature of the season.

The pair were interviewed together after their rounds and 14-time major winner Woods was fulsome in his praise of the young pretender to his throne.

"This is the next generation, he's a really nice kid and the game of golf is in good hands," the American said.

Veteran Fijian Vijay Singh produced a superb birdie burst on his back nine to join Woods in the clubhouse on seven under, while defending champion Justin Rose of England opened with a 67.

'Hot putter' Snedeker snares U.S. Ryder Cup place

Former world No. 1 Luke Donald was tied for seventh on 66, while fellow 2012 Ryder Cup players Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker were on 68 in a group also including British Open champion Ernie Els, runner-up Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen -- who was second at the Deutsche Bank event.

U.S. Ryder Cup teammates Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker and Jim Furyk shot 69, as did Sergio Garcia -- who secured his place on the European team for this month's match at Medinah by winning the Wyndham Championship in August.

Padraig Harrington and Hunter Mahan, who missed out on being among their respective team captains' wild-card picks, shot 70 to be tied for 41st while automatic U.S. selections Keegan Bradley (71) and Jason Dufner (72) were further back.

With preferred lies and soft conditions, scoring was low on a course with a fearsome reputation with only 10 players in the 70-strong elite field over par.

Only the top 30 in the FedEx rankings go through to the Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks' time to have the chance to win a $10 million bonus for the overall winner.

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