|Published:||Sep 01, 2011 12:52 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 02, 2011 6:30 AM EDT|
CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland (AP) - Rory McIlroy shot a 6-under 65 in the European Masters first round on Thursday to share the early lead with Martin Kaymer.
McIlroy got five birdies in his final eight holes, in his first tournament since injuring his right wrist three weeks ago.
"It's a great way to start the week," said McIlroy, who can rise to No. 3 in the world rankings with victory here. "I'm sixth and I want to get higher."
Fifth-ranked Kaymer matched McIlroy with seven birdies and just one bogey in his 65, as both started their rounds from the 10th hole.
McIlroy missed several birdie chances before finding his putting form.
"I felt as if I left a couple out there, but I'm not going to complain in my first round back after an injury," the Northern Irishman said.
McIlroy damaged his wrist playing a shot against a tree root early in the U.S. PGA Championship, and the pain spread up his right arm as he tried to adjust.
He showed no ill effects on Thursday, after two weeks spent recuperating with his girlfriend, top-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, in the United States.
"It's totally fine. I'm able to hit all the shots I want to and not lose any distance," McIlroy said.
McIlroy's steady round took off with birdie putts of 3 feet and 20 feet at the second and third holes.
His only blemish was a five at the fourth after hooking his tee shot into trees. A bold, lofted recovery shot found a green-side bunker, and though he played from the sand to within three feet, his par putt rolled around the right lip of the hole.
McIlroy quickly recovered that shot with a 12-footer at the fifth, then made a downhill 14-feet putt for birdie at the fifth.
Finishing on the 649-yard ninth, McIlroy's third shot from the apron of the green was a bump-and-run chip to within inches.
Kaymer played in the group immediately ahead of McIlroy and quickly found his putting stroke, going to 3 under after six holes.
"I played very solid - hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens and good approaches," Kaymer said of his first round since he failed to defend his 2010 U.S. PGA title in Atlanta.
Kaymer also rued missed chances, though his were on his homeward nine.
"I would have liked to make one or two birdies between (holes) five and seven. They are easy par-4s," Kaymer said.
Still, the German compensated with a 40-foot putt for birdie at the short eighth, then finished with a birdie at nine.
Alejandro Canizares of Spain was alone at 5 under in the clubhouse.
World No. 2 Lee Westwood of England played later Thursday in a field that also includes British Open winner Darren Clarke from Northern Ireland and Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe's 2012 Ryder Cup captain.
The Swiss tournament is the first that counts toward qualifying for the Europe team to face the United States at Medinah, Illinois.