Wells Fargo Championship: Rory McIlroy eight behind after 'strange' incident

Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy (right) won the Wells Fargo event in 2010 and again last year
Wells Fargo first-round leaderboard
-7 S Wheatcroft (US), A Loupe (US); -6 A Lahiri (Ind); -5 D Van Der Walt (SA), K Chappell (US)
Selected others:-3 M Laird (Sco); -2 I Poulter (Eng), P Casey (Eng), G Owen (Eng); -1 R Fowler (US); +1 R McIlroy (NI)

Rory McIlroy is eight shots off the pace at the Wells Fargo Championship in the US, after a bizarre incident with a spectator at the sixth hole.

The Northern Irishman fired a one-over-par 73, to sit behind American leaders Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe.

A fan threw a golf ball with an ear plug attached to it onto the Quail Hollow course while McIlroy and playing partner Rickie Fowler were on the tee.

"The guy tried to say it was a gift," said American Fowler.

"I don't know why you would give a gift of a golf ball with an ear plug attached to it.''

Defending champion McIlroy added: "It was sort of strange. Charlotte's finest (police) sorted it out and got him off the property, thankfully."

Indian Anirban Lahiri shot a 66 to trail American co-leaders Wheatcroft and Loupe by a stroke.

Scotland's Martin Laird, on three under, was a shot clear of England's Justin Rose, Greg Owen, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter and Germany's Alex Cejka.

Four-time major winner McIlroy was near the tail of the field as he stood on four over after nine, but his second nine included a run of three straight birdies from the fifth.

McIlroy, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Wednesday, clinched his first PGA Tour victory in the Quail Hollow event in 2010 and also triumphed in Charlotte 12 months ago.

After starting at the 10th, dropped shots at both the 12th and 13th in windy conditions and a double bogey at the 18th saw him going to the turn in 40.

Having picked up his first shot of the day at the short second, McIlroy bogeyed the third but three straight birdies from the fifth included almost holing his tee shot at the par-three sixth.

The world number three blamed "not having my scoring head on" for his opening nine struggles.

"I've been working a lot on the range and I was still in range mode on the front nine," he added.

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