Sunday, March 26, 2017

McIlroy leads Mickelson, Fisher, Thomas by two

After rounds of 68-65, Rory McIlroy leads the WGC-Mexico Championship by two shots over Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Ross Fisher. Here’s where things stand through 36 holes at Club de Golf Chapultepec:

Leaderboard: McIlroy (-9), Mickelson (-7), Fisher (-7), Thomas (-7), Andy Sullivan (-6), Daniel Berger (-6), Dustin Johnson (-6), 

What it means: McIlroy is making his return from a rib injury that kept him sidelined for 6 weeks, and rust doesn’t appear an issue. The world No. 3 made six birdies Friday and jumped into the outright lead with an eagle hole-out from 152 yards at the par-4 14th. McIlroy’s lead likely should be two shots larger, but a three-putt bogey at 17 and a vicious lip-out on a 3-foot birdie try at 18 cost him late. McIlroy will enter the weekend looking for his first win since last season’s Tour Championship and his third World Golf Championship. Two back and playing with McIlroy on Saturday will be the 46-year-old Mickelson, who will once again look to break his three-and-a-half year winless streak dating back to the 2013 Open. Lefty posted 3-under 68 in Round 2 with his brother (and Jon Rahm’s manager) Tim on the bag, after an ill Jim Mackay took leave. Joining McIlroy and Mickelson in Round 3 will be Fisher, the five-time European Tour winner eyeing his first victory in North America. Tied for second at 7 under and a three-time winner already this season, Thomas has the opportunity to win for a fourth time before the Masters. As if McIlroy, Mickelson and Thomas aren’t enough to create excitement, the world No. 1, Johnson, lurks three back. 

Round of the day: McIlroy and Sullivan both posted 65. On a day replete with holeouts, Sullivan cashed in for an eagle of his own from 133 yards at the par-4 ninth. He dropped his only shot when he failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker at 18.

Best of the rest: Thomas, Berger, Johnson and Ben An all turned in 66. Thomas birdied his last two holes to move himself into a tie for second.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth’s second-round scorecard featured a lot of color and a few too many geometric shapes. He signed for an eagle, four birdies, two bogeys, a double, a triple and a round of 1-over 71. And 1 over is where he’ll start the weekend, 10 back.

Shots of the day: Two of them. McIlroy’s hole-out to take the lead:

And this ridiculous pitch-in from Spieth at 16, who had just chipped in for eagle at 15:

Quote of the day: “I’m in a great position leading going into the weekend, but I feel like I could be a few more ahead.”- McIlroy


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