Rory McIlroy continued his comeback from injury in fine style with a brilliant second round of six under par 65 to take control of the WGC – Mexico Championship.
The Northern Irishman is making his first competitive appearance since sustaining a rib fracture at the BMW SA Open in January and seems close to his imperious best.
Nowhere was that more evident than on the par four 14th hole of the Club de Golf Chapultepec, where McIlroy holed out from 152 yards for an eagle two to soar into the tournament lead. Before that, McIlroy had made five birdies and a single bogey, to which he added one more birdies and one more dropped shot before missing a short birdie putt on the last.
McIlroy was annoyed at missing a couple of short putts towards the end of the day, but was pleased with his overall performance which saw him establish a two stroke lead over Ross Fisher (68), Phil Mickelson (68) and Justin Thomas (66).
Andy Sullivan matched McIlroy’s 65 to move to six under and a tie for fifth place alongside World Number One Dustin Johnson and Daniel Berger heading into the weekend.
European Tour Members Tyrell Hatton, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters, Jon Rahm and Fabrizio Zanotti are among those tied on five under, with Matt Fitzpatrick, Joost Luiten and Lee Westwood a further stroke back alongside Rickie Fowler.
Rory McIlroy: “I played really solid. I basically hit the ball where I was looking for the most part. I think my wedge play was really good. I had some really good wedges and short irons and that's really, if you can do that around here you're going to score well.
“I was a little disappointed with the couple of misses coming in, but it can happen late in the day on these greens. Yeah, a couple of misreads, that was really it. I felt like I made two good strokes on those last two holes, but these things happen. But I'm still two ahead going in the weekend, so I'm in a good spot.
“I’ve way exceeded expectations so far this week. I came here not with low expectations but I didn't really know what to expect. It's my first competitive week back after seven weeks after an injury. I was just trying to take it each day as it came. I've got through two days and I'm in a pretty good spot and hopefully the next two days go just as well. Definitely exceeded expectations up until this point.”
Ross Fisher: “I’m very happy. We had a game plan after seeing the course Tuesday and Wednesday and then I put a new putter in the bag this week which has worked very well. For me, I don't feel like there's many drivers to be hit out there. There's different ways of playing it. You look at some of the guys, they'll be hitting driver on some holes where I was hitting an iron. Everyone's got their own strategy of playing this course, so I think myself and Woody (Fisher’s caddie) have come up with a game plan and we're going to stick to it.”
Andy Sullivan: “I'm just happy I'm starting to play golf a bit better and putts are starting to go in the hole more often. I think one thing I struggled with early in the season was my putting, so just coming out here and putting well on really slopey greens, it gives me a lot of confidence going forward.
“I think the European Tour players are quite used to the altitude. We've played quite a bit of golf in South Africa and obviously Switzerland where there's a lot of altitude, so we sort of know what we are doing in terms of the yardages. I think it's a strategy, you know, trying to be aggressive but trying to play smart at the same time. That is quite tough because the course does offer you holes where you can be aggressive, but again at the same you know you’ll get punished for any mistake.”