PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — On the course where Rory McIlroy first rose to No. 1, he looked as if he might be headed in that direction again.
McIlroy shot a 7-under 63 on Thursday, with birdies on the last two holes at PGA National giving him a one-shot lead over Russell Henley after the first round of the Honda Classic.
If nothing else, it was big improvement from the last official round he played on PGA National.
McIlroy was 7 over through eight holes last year when he became so frustrated with mounting expectations and a slumping game that he walked off the course in the middle of the second round. He said it was a mistake that he would never repeat.
Tiger Woods, in his first tournament in a month, couldn't make a birdie putt early and had to scramble for pars late in his round. A birdie on the last hole gave him a 71, leaving him eight shots behind.
In his other two events this year, Woods was eight shots behind after the opening round at Torrey Pines and five shots behind at Dubai. He goes into the second round Friday outside the cut line.
Henley opened with five birdies and six holes before he cooled off for a 64. Past champion Rory Sabbatini, William McGirt and Jamie Donaldson were at 65.
Zach Johnson was four shots behind and thrilled about his 67. He hit two shots into the water on his way to a quadruple-bogey 8 on his second hold of the tournament. The former Masters champ followed with seven birdies to get back in the game.
HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS
SINGAPORE (AP) — Australia's Karrie Webb shot a 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour's HSBC Women's Champions.
The Women's Australian Open winner two weeks ago for her 40th LPGA Tour career, Webb had a bogey-free round on Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course. She won the 2011 event at Tanah Merah.
Sweden's Caroline Hedwall and American Paula Creamer shot 67. American Angela Stanford, the 2012 winner, was another stroke back along with Taiwan's Teresa Lu. Top-ranked Inbee Park opened with a 70.