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McIlroy ahead at Shanghai Masters

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the Shanghai Masters.

The 22-year-old star from Northern Ireland had eight birdies - five on the back nine - in his bogey-free round on Lake Malaren's Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters course.

"If I can play as solid for the next three days as I did today, I feel as if I'll be very difficult to beat," McIlroy said.

The 30 players are playing for a $2 million jackpot, the most lucrative in golf. All the top players are getting appearance money, and even last place pays a not too shabby $25,000.

Unsanctioned by a major tour, the event doesn’t have world-ranking points.

American Hunter Mahan was second. He had seven birdies, including three in a row on the back nine.

"You have to go out there and try to make as many birdies as you can," said Mahan.

"A lot of great players are here, so you can't take your foot off the pedal. You've got to be aggressive. The course is set up well enough so that it's not too long - (there are) good length holes. But it's still challenging in a lot of areas, so you have to be cautious on a few shots."

England's Paul Casey and Ian Poulter and Ireland's Padraig Harrington opened with 67s, and American Anthony Kim was another stroke back along with China's Li Chao.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel had a 70, and PGA winner Keegan Bradley had a 72.

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