Rory McIlroy enjoys an encouraging start at Wells Fargo Championship

Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the 11th hole
Rory McIlroy watches his tee shot on the 11th hole

Rory McIlroy lies three shots off the clubhouse lead following an encouraging start to the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy carded a three-under-par round of 69 in North Carolina.

The Holywood star – who claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the event in 2010 – trails early leader Angel Cabrera after the opening day.

Argentinean Cabrera went on a blistering run of five birdies over six holes around the turn and held his nerve on the back nine with some par saves.

Stewart Cink and Jonathan Byrd are on four under par after 68s.

McIlroy started his round on the 10th, and it wasn’t long before he started picking up shots and progressed to three under after 11 holes.

Bogeys at the third and fourth saw McIlroy’s round stalled but he responded with back-to-back birdies to recover his position.

McIlroy has not won in the United States for 20 months.

His last win across the Atlantic came in the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in September 2012.

Northern Irish compatriot Darren Clarke had a difficult day, carding had a three-over round of 75.