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Published: 08:15 | 6/5/16

McIlroy eight behind at Quail Hollow

Rory McIlroy fought back from a poor start to keep his hopes of winning the Wells Fargo Championship alive.

McIlroy has a good record at Quail Hollow with five top ten finishes in six appearances at the Charlotte venue, but the defending champion struggled during the early stages of his first round, dropping shots at the 12th and 13th before a double bogey on the 18th.

That left him four over at the turn but the four-time major winner picked up four shots on the front nine to keep himself in contention for a third Wells Fargo Championship.

His first birdie arrived on the second, his 11th hole, only to be quickly followed by a third bogey. After a par at the par-four fourth, McIlroy birdied the fifth, sixth and seventh to move back to one over for the tournament and he parred his way home to finish eight shots off the lead.

"I knew I was going to have to sort of play my way into the next couple of weeks," McIlroy said.

"I started off pretty well today but then there was just some shots where I was thinking so much about the swing rather than actually the shot that I was trying to hit and that was really the problem for the front nine.

"I would much rather be in red numbers [under par] but I'm much happier where I am now than I was three hours ago. I just need to go out tomorrow and shoot a good second round, something in the 60s, get myself back into the tournament going into the weekend."

American pair Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe lead the way on seven-under, one clear of India's Anirban Lahiri, while Kevin Chappell and Dawie van der Walt are a further shot back on five-under.

Elsewhere, Phil Mickelson is three-under and England's Justin Rose, Greg Owen, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter are all two-under heading into the second round with Rickie Fowler a shot back.

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