• McIlroy charges clear in Mexico

    Rory McIlroy

    Rory McIlroy took a two-shot lead into the weekend at the WGC-Mexico Championship, with a chance to return to No 1 in the world.

    McIlroy holed out from 156 yards for eagle on the 14th hole, part of a three-hole stretch when he seized control at Chapultepec Golf Club. McIlroy missed putts inside 6 feet on his last three holes – one for par, two for birdie – and still shot a 6-under 65.

    ‘Look, I’m in a great position,’ McIlroy said. ‘But I felt like I could have been a few more ahead.’

    He got 14 hours of sleep to help overcome a stomach virus and said he was feeling a little better.

    McIlroy was at 9-under 133, two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson (68), Justin Thomas (66) and Ross Fisher (68).

    McIlroy is playing for the first time, since losing a playoff at the South African Open. He was diagnosed with a hairline rib fracture the next day and missed four tournaments on his schedule to make sure it healed properly. There seems to be little debate about his recovery now.

    He conclusively showed that blend of power and balance in the thin air of Mexico City and struck his irons close for much of the day. His longest birdie putt was 12 feet, and McIlroy had reason to lament the ones that got away. He missed four putts from 6 feet or closer.

    Dustin Johnson, in his debut as world No1, watched a number of putts wiggle to the hole, and a few more went in. He birdied three of his last four holes for a 66 and was among those only three shots behind, and still very much in the picture.

    Johnson can keep the top ranking if he finishes in the top four.

    Missing from the mix was Jordan Spieth, who put on a highlight show when he chipped in for eagle on the 15th, and then played a clever pitch some 30 feet away from the flag to let it roll down the hill and into the cup for a birdie.

    This more than wiped out a double bogey on the par-5 11th, but his momentum stalled in a big way. Spieth went long at No1 into the hedges and out of bounds, leading to a triple bogey. He shot a 72 and was 1-over 143, 10 shots behind.

    He had one thing in common with McIlroy. Spieth also spent more time in the bathroom than in bed the night before from a stomach virus that has been the lone blight in an otherwise strong debut for this World Golf Championship in Mexico City.

    Of the South Africans, Charl Schwartzel added a 68 to his first round 71 for three-under overall and six shots behind McIlroy on 138, tied for 19th. Brandon Grace carded a 69 to be level par 142 overall (tied 36th), Louis Oosthuizen is three behind that (145) after a 72, while Brandon Stone is on 149 and Richard Sterne on 155.

    Photo: Justin Heiman/Getty Images

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