After beating Tiger Woods in an exhibition match in China earlier this week, Rory McIlroy said he'd "seen a lot of promising signs over the past few weeks in practice and also in competitive play" when questioned about his form.

This was truly evident for all to see on Thursday as McIlroy stormed to an opening round of 65 to take a two shot lead at the WGC-HSBC Championship at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai.

The 24-year-old McIlroy had eight birdies at the testing Sheshan layout en route to a brilliant seven under par round.

The former world number one did not have a great day with the big stick, missing many fairways, but more than made up for it with his iron play and short game to leave himself in great position heading into Friday and the weekend in China.

The Ulsterman has a two stroke lead over fellow Briton Jamie Donaldson and Spaniard Fernando Gonzalez-Castano, both of whom shot rounds of 67 Thursday.

Welshman Donaldson had six birdies, an eagle and three bogeys in his five under par round, while the charismatic Fernandez-Castano has continued his recent fine form into this week. Last week's BMW Championship winner, known as 'Gonzo', had six birdies in his very solid opening 67, hoping to win back to back events for the first time in his career.

In the second event of the European Tour's inaugural final series and the final WGC of the year, the top of the leaderboard is as good as ever.

With the young talent of the likes of Jordan Speith and Tommy Fleetwood coupling the Major prowess of Ernie Els, Bubba Waston, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and McIlroy, the cream of the golfing crop has risen to the top of this week's leaderboard.

The presence of all these names near the lead promises an exciting few days to come at what is often called the 'best field in golf'.

A Rory McIlroy back in form is going to make it all the more interesting. McIlroy will have to fend off a field competing for the honour of being a WGC champion, making this grand tournament an exciting watch over the next few days.

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