Hamilton (Bermuda): Rory McIlroy made four birdies on the back nine Tuesday to grab a share of the lead with Keegan Bradley at the PGA Grand Slam, featuring the winners of this year`s majors.
The pair finished the first round tied at 4-under 67, well ahead of Charl Schwartzel, The Masters winner who shot a 74, and British Open champion Darren Clarke, who finished with a 77.
McIlroy, who won the US Open, missed a host of putts on the front nine.
"It was getting frustrating," he said. "I was reading them and every time …. I felt as if I was hitting the putt on the line I wanted to, but it was going nowhere near the hole.
"But to birdie three of the last five holes was great, and at one stage I was behind Keegan; so to draw level with him after the first day was nice."
Bradley, who won the PGA Championship, meanwhile got off fast at Port Royal Golf Course, racing to 6 under and briefly putting Lucas Glover`s course record 65 in jeopardy.
He missed putts at 14 and 16 to drop back.
Bradley played an almost flawless front nine which included eagles at the par-5 2nd and 7th, when he hit 6-iron approaches from 220-yards to within 2-feet of the pin.
McIlroy in contrast couldn`t make a putt and reached the turn at 2 under following birdies at Nos. 5 and 7. His troubles on the green continued on 11, however, where he three-putted, but a 30-footer for birdie at 12 changed things.
While Bradley was starting to struggle, McIlroy found his rhythm and after driving to within 10-yards of the green on 15, was the only one of the foursome to hit the green at the par-3 16, when Clarke and Schwartzel hit their tee-shots into the sea and walked away with triple bogeys.
A heavy rain shower turned the closing two holes into a battle, but McIlroy managed to birdie 17 to draw even with Bradley and set up an intriguing final round Wednesday.
It is likely to be a two-way fight, with Schwartzel and Clarke seemingly too far back to challenge the leaders.
Clarke was typically blunt in describing his round: "It was crap and that`s being polite," he said. "I didn`t come here to play this badly."