Rory McIlroy is seven shots off the clubhouse pace at the Wells Fargo Championship in the US after firing an opening one-over-par 73.
Defending champion McIlroy was near the tail of the field as he stood on four over after nine but recovered to finish seven behind leader Anirban Lahiri.
World number three McIlroy’s second nine included a run of three straight birdies from the fifth.
Indian Lahiri fired a 66 while Ian Poulter and Paul Casey both shot 70.
Northern Irishman 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.
Mcllroy, after starting at the 10th, dropped shots at both the 12th and 13th amid windy conditions and a double bogey at the 18th saw him going to the turn in 40.
After picking up his first shot of the day at the short second, McIlroy immediately bogeyed the third but three straight birdies from the fifth included almost holing his tee shot at the par-three sixth.
World number 55 Lahiri produced a blemish-free round which included three birdies in both nines.
Lahiri has a two-shot clubhouse lead over Australia’s John Senden with former US Open champion Retief Goosen a further shot back on 69.
Poulter produced a steady round of two birdies and 16 pars while his fellow Englishman Casey’s matching 70 included four birdies.