Rory McIlroy has gone from being hunted to being the hunter as he finds himself trailing tournament leader Dustin Johnson at the WGC Mexico by two strokes after round two, having been leading by one at the start of the day.
Rory McIlroy / Image from Getty Images
McIlroy started well with a birdie, par, birdie run in his first three holes before a pair of 6’s at the 6th and 9th saw him turn in level par and he followed that with eight pars and one birdie on the back nine for a one under par card for the day.
Johnson on the other hand, returned a four under par round with no bogeys, making him the only player in the field to not have a bogey in the opening 36 holes.
“The only time it matters when you’re leading is after the 72nd hole. So much golf to play,” said McIlroy.
“This tournament hasn’t even started yet, so I’m in a good position. I played pretty well over the first couple days. Just going to try to play similarly over the weekend and hopefully take advantage of the par fives and some of the shorter par fours and we’ll see where that puts me at the end of the week.”
“I feel like I did most things pretty well today. Maybe wasn’t quite as good on the greens, but I think even that hour and a half difference teeing off at 11:30am compared to nearly 1:00pm, it makes a difference, just that extra traffic out there.”
Matt Kuchar sits alongside McIlroy in T2 place with Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood who returned a second round 65 that included back to back eagle two’s to kick-start his round, are two shots further back on seven under par.
“It’s not something that happens very often, is it? I’ll take it, though. It’s a good way to start, a good way to get a little bit of momentum,” said Fleetwood.
“I think it was good because I didn’t finish very well yesterday, so I sort of played pretty well yesterday. Hit a couple of bad shots towards the end and dropped, so it was nice to actually catapult myself up there early on and kind of just go from there and kind of keep moving forward,” he added.
As for Johnson, he has won eight of the seventeen times he has been leading after 36 holes with the current world number 3 also having two top 10’s from his four starts this season and having won this event in 2015 and 2017, so he has serious form in Mexico.
“I just hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. My speed has been pretty good with the putter. The greens were really tricky, and I had some really tough flights today, but I have just done a really good job with controlling my distance with my irons and giving myself a lot of looks at birdies,” he said.
“I just enjoy playing this kind of golf. It makes you focus. You’ve got to think and you’re doing a lot of calculations with the numbers and trying to figure out how far the ball is going to actually go. I like this golf course. It does set up well for me. It’s pretty narrow, but it’s treelined, so I do like that.”
Shane Lowry is T56 after a bit of a horror-show round that saw him card a five over par second round and left him on +4 for the tournament.
Meantime, in Puerto Rico, Graeme McDowell is T27 after a level par second round which saw him stay on two under for the tournament and he trails a trio of leaders (Trahan, Diaz and Lashley) by six strokes.