McIlroy made five birdies on his back-nine during an opening round of the 67WGC-HSBC Champions -8: H Li (Chn); -7: V Perez (Fra); -6: M Fitzpatrick (Eng), X Schauffele (US), S-J Im (Kor), A Scott (Aus) Selected others: -5: R McIlroy (NI); -4: D Willett (Eng), L Oosthuizen (SA); -3: M Wallace (Eng), J Rose (Eng); -2: H Stenson (Swe); -1: P Mickelson (US); E: S Lowry (Ire) Full Scoreboard
World number two Rory McIlroy is three shots past the pace after carding an opening round 67 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Haotong Li shot an eight-under-par 64 to lead the Frenchman Victor Perez with one shot.
Li, 24, had seven birds, an eagle and a bogey man to chart his best round at Sheshan Golf International.
Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick and title defender Xander Schauffele are well placed at six-under-par.
McIlroy, who ended in a tie last week at last week's Zozo Championship in Japan, slowly began to reach the turn in level par before five birdies in six holes in the eighth nine catapulted him onto the scoreboard .
The Northern Irishman, who has finished in the top five four times before, follows Li with three alongside Corey Conners and Matthias Schwab.
Home favorite Haotong Li led by one of the Frenchman Victor Perez
Home favorite Li ran to the corner in 31 before dropping a shot on the first – his 10th – but immediately bounced back with an eagle on two.
Two more birds followed before a gutsy par save on the ninth, his last hole, held him off for the rest.
Perez, who makes his debut for the world wave after achieving his first European Tour win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September, made two eagles on their way to an impressive 65.
form Fitzpatrick, who finished second in the Italian Open earlier this month, made seven birdies after opening with a bogey.
Schauffele, who last year defeated Tony Finau in a play-off during this event, shot five of his last six holes to take part of third place alongside Fitzpatrick, Sung-jae Im and Adam Scott.
World number 26 Louis Oosthuizen had a hole-in-one in the par-three sixth on his way to a four-under-par 68 to sit next to the Englishman Danny Willett, Abraham Ancer and Xinjun Zhang.