Rory McIlroy wore a satisfied smile after a productive day on the new and nicely receptive greens at Quail Hollow.
Two weeks of hard work on his putting since the Masters clearly were not in vain as the Holywood-man polished-off a first round 69 at the Wells Fargo Championship, leaving him three shy of Angel Cabrera's early clubhouse lead on six-under.
McIlroy, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory here in 2010, landed six birdies and simply shrugged off his three bogeys, each of which came after he drove deep into trouble on the left.
"I felt like I played solid," he said. "I gave myself plenty of looks for birdies and felt I putted a little better than I've done the last few weeks, so that's a positive.
"I was looking to go a few more under par after the turn, but I wasn't able to do that. I think anything sub-70 today was a pretty good because the wind was a little gusty."
Having discovered on Sunday at the Masters that he'd been standing too close to his ball on the green, throwing off his alignment, the Holywood native corrected this facile flaw.
His efforts since Augusta paid-off early yesterday as he holed putts of around seven feet for birdie fours at this first and sixth holes, the 10th and 15th.
McIlroy then pulled his drive deep into the left rough at the daunting 16th; knocked his lay-up through the fairway into the first cut then missed the green and two-putted for bogey five at 16.
A poor day turned ugly for Darren Clarke as he stumbled to a treble-bogey seven at his final hole, the ninth, and signed for a four-over 76.
The former Open champ pulled his drive into an impossible lie in the trees. On the fairway in three, he then missed the green left, chipped on and took two to get down.
Gareth Maybin and Damian McGrane both shot 71's to wallow two outside the projected cut line.