MEXICO CITY • Rory McIlroy proved better at holing out from the fairway than making short putts on his way to a two-stroke lead after the second round at the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City on Friday.
The Northern Irishman made eagle with a nine-iron from 151 yards at the par-four 14th and would have enjoyed a commanding halfway lead had his putter not gone cold at the end. He missed a four-foot par putt at the 17th hole, then another from three feet at the last, for a six-under-par 65 at Club de Golf Chapultepec.
"Starting the day I would have taken 65, but I feel like I could have been a few more ahead," McIlroy told the Golf Channel after posting a nine-under 133 total.
Americans Phil Mickelson (68) and Justin Thomas (66) and Englishman Ross Fisher (68) were equal second on seven-under, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (66) among a trio one stroke further back.
Four-time Major champion McIlroy, 27, is playing just his second event of the year, after missing six weeks due to a rib injury.
"I tried to approach this week, not with low expectations, but just to see how it went," said the former world No. 1. "My body feels good, which is the most important thing I think."
On a day when the holes seemed to have magnets, several players holed out from long range, none more spectacularly than McIlroy, whose approach at the 14th landed left of the green, but took a fortunate sideways bounce and trickled into the hole.
Mickelson, meanwhile, had to call his brother Tim out of the gallery on the fourth hole when regular caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay was unable to continue due to a stomach illness.
However, the 46-year-old Mickelson did not miss a beat, carding a 68 to stay near the lead.
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