Rory McIlroy begins new year with 67 at BMW SA Open

New year.

New clubs.

Same Rory McIlroy.

Using a varied selection of tools, McIlroy began his 2017 professional season Thursday with a solid 5-under par round of 67 in the first round of the BMW SA Open near Johannesburg.

His round included a trio of twos.

Trevor Fisher Jr. shot a 66 for the early lead.

McIlroy’s appearance in South Africa is a positive payback to his good friend Ernie Els. He was widely considered a pre-tournament favorite by many, including Els himself.

Former European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke also began his 2017 on a solid note, shooting a 2-under 70. He is tied for 16th.

McIlroy, according to the Irish Times, drew the vast majority of the big crowds at Glendower Golf Club in Edenvale, South Africa.

He began on the 10th and hammered his opening competitive drive of the new year 392 yards straight down the fairway. Four consecutive pars were followed by birdie putts on 15, 15, 16 and 17.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 12:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during day one of The BMW South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on January 12, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)