• McIlroy lurks, while Charl leads SA challenge

    McIlroy lurks, while Charl leads SA challenge

    Rory McIlroy returned to action after a seven-week delay due to a rib injury and promptly shot a three-under 68 to see him one stroke behind a six-man lead group after the first round of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

    England’s Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood, Americans Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore and Spain’s John Rahm all shot opening 67s.

    McIlroy was in a group of seven on 68s, a group that included current Compleat Golfer cover subject, Sergio Garcia.

    Only 27 of the 77-man field broke par (71). Charl Schwartzel signed for a 71, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace for two-over 73s, while Brandon Stone and Richard Sterne returned 76s.

    McIlroy, who can return to No1 with a victory this week, had not competed since Jan. 15 because of a hairline rib fracture. Leaning on his driver as he waited to tee off midway through his round, he said he spent most of the night in the bathroom and ‘the altitude doesn’t help’.

    He made the golf look easy, rarely getting out of position while playing aggressively with a driver early in the round and surging late with an eagle on the par-5 sixth. British Open champion Henrik Stenson wasn’t so fortunate. He withdrew after 11 holes with a stomach virus.

    The biggest surprise was Chapultepec Golf Club, hosting the best players in the world at nearly 7 800 feet (2400 m) above sea level. Roberto Castro hit a tee shot 407 yards. Mickelson hit one 379 yards, his longest in recent years without hitting a cart path. Dustin Johnson, in his debut at No1 in the world, hit 3-wood on the 316-yard first hole that bounded over the green, into the hedges and out of bounds. For all that length, no one could do better than 67.

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