World number one Rory McIlroy is one stroke off the lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida following a six-under 66.
The Northern Irishman, who won the event in 2018, began from the 10th hole and carded an eagle and five birdies.
Matt Every, whose two PGA Tour titles came at this event in 2014 and 2015, leads after a bogey-free 65.
Tommy Fleetwood, who missed out on his maiden PGA Tour win last week after bogeying the last, opened with a 76.
Florida native Every, 36, who is ranked 308 places lower than McIlroy, missed the cut at last week’s Honda Classic after a second round 85. “Sometimes I’m really good, sometimes I’m really bad,” he admitted.
Tyrrell Hatton is the best-placed Englishman after five birdies in a 68, joined by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell who holed a 20-foot to birdie at the last in the challenging late afternoon conditions, with Matt Wallace one further back after starting from the 10th with four successive birdies.
McIlroy leads the PGA Tour scoring average this year with 68.205 and has finished in the top five of all six events he has played this season.
The four-time major winner, whose last tournament victory came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November, dropped a shot at his second hole after finding water but picked up seven strokes in his closing 12 holes.
After an approach to three feet at the first he played a magnificent three-iron to 23 feet from a fairway bunker at the 587-yard par-five fourth and rolled in the putt for an eagle.
Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner of the event, is absent this week and playing a very limited schedule before defending his Masters title next month, while defending champion Francesco Molinari withdrew because of a back injury.
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