Wheatcroft, Loupe share lead after first round


Relatively unknown Americans Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe are a shot clear at the Wells Fargo Championship as defending champion Rory McIlroy struggled in the first round.

Wheatcroft and Loupe - both winners on the Web.com Tour - pushed each other atop the leaderboard via seven-under-par 65s in Charlotte on Thursday.

Loupe earned his score with seven birdies in a flawless round at Quail Hollow Club.

Wheatcroft made things more interesting with an eagle to start the day on one and another on 12 to offset a pair of bogeys.

"I can't hit it within 40 yards of [Loupe] but there's ways to make birdies out here and luckily I found ways to do it today," Wheatcroft said.

"To get the momentum going and see the putts falling again was great. And yeah, Andrew and I kind of fed off each other all day, he got off to a really hot start making birdies. I chipped in at the fifth for eagle and just kind of got it rolling after that." 

Anirban Lahiri is a stroke adrift in sole possession of third following his bogey-free round, a shot clear of Kevin Chappell and Dawie van der Walt, who birdied his final hole.

John Senden, Tim Wilkinson and Daniel Berger are level at four under through the opening 18 holes.

McIlroy and former world number one Adam Scott found the going tough around the course.

A disappointing outward nine set McIlroy back and he had to put on a solid back-nine showing just to card a one-over 73.

"I just need to come out tomorrow and shoot a good second round, something in the 60s," McIlroy said after salvaging a round that started with a four over first nine. "I wasn't happy with how I played today but I'm happy with my comeback and at least I showed a little bit of character out there and didn't let it get away from me."

As for Scott, he matched McIlroy's rough morning a 73 of his own.