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Rory McIlroy leads way at Honda Classic

updated 6:35 PM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Rory McIlroy finished at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the Honda Classic in Florida.
Rory McIlroy finished at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the Honda Classic in Florida.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy shoots seven-under 63 in opening round of Honda Classic
  • World No. 8 banishes memory of miserable, premature exit 12 months ago
  • Tiger Woods struggles to one-over par round of 71
  • World No. 2 Adam Scott in mix after opening with two-under 68

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(CNN) -- Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy stormed to a seven-under round of 63 in the opening round of the Honda Classic at Florida's PGA National on Thursday.

The world No. 8, who dramatically pulled out of the tournament following a disastrous start to his second round 12 months ago, produced a bogey-free round to finish one shot clear of America's Russell Henley.

McIlroy, who is looking to repeat his 2012 success at Palm Beach Gardens, came home in just 30 strokes aided by back-to-back birdies at the closing two holes.

South Africa's Rory Sabbatini, William McGirt from the U.S. and Wales' Jamie Donaldson are tied for third place after each shot opening rounds of 65.

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Australia's Adam Scott, who will start the defence of his Masters title at Augusta National in just six weeks, got off to a steady start -- a two-under par 68 leaves the world No. 2 in a tie for 21st place.

But it was another dissatisfying day at the office for Tiger Woods who remains mired, by his high standards, in mediocrity after struggling to an opening round one-over par 71.

The world No. 1, who crashed out of the Farmers Insurance Open with a 79 in January, birdied the last hole to end on a positive note after struggling to find his form on the greens.

"I hit it good enough to shoot at least three or four lower than I did," Woods said.

"I had so many looks that I just missed. I hit good putts but I didn't figure out the greens as well as I needed to. I need to read them a little better than I did."

World No. 3, Henrik Stenson also struggled to get going on Thursday and finished with a three-over par 73.

Elsewhere, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell both opened with even-par rounds of 70 and are currently tied for 57th.

Further up the leaderboard, Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge is tied with America's Derek Ernst, Tommy Gainey, Brice Garnett and Matt Every for sixth on four-under par.

England's Luke Donald and former Masters champion Zach Johnson are part of 10-way tie for 11th place after opening rounds of 67.

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