MEXICO CITY • Dustin Johnson believes that playing a challenging layout can only make him a better player, as he surged to a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar with a flawless four-under 67 in the second round of the WGC-Mexico Championship on Friday.
The world No. 3 wiped out Northern Irishman McIlroy's early four-stroke advantage at the Club de Golf Chapultepec to wind up at 11-under 131 for the tournament.
"The greens are really tricky, but I have done a really good job of controlling the distance with my irons and give myself lots of looks at birdies," Johnson said on Golf Channel.
A winner two years ago at the high-altitude course outside Mexico City, the American said of the layout: "It makes you focus. You've got to think.
"You are doing a lot of calculations with the numbers and trying to figure out how far the ball is actually going to go. It is pretty narrow, but it is tree lined, so I do like that."
Overnight leader McIlroy, who shot a first-round 63, looked set to break open the tournament with birdies at three of his first four holes but a bogey at the sixth and a double at the ninth left him with a 70.
Kuchar's six-birdie 67 kept him at the top end of the leaderboard, while Tiger Woods and defending champion Phil Mickelson were on the move.
Woods found his putting touch to get within six shots of the lead with a 66 and Mickelson rebounded from an opening 79 with the joint-best round of the day, a 65.
Playing in Mexico for the first time, Woods was satisfied with his round after posting six birdies and only one bogey.
"I think I got a little more familiar with the golf course," he said.
"I got a better feel for the tee shots, the lines, the approach shots and the greens.
"It helped having that one look yesterday in a competitive environment."
England's Tommy Fleetwood and Spaniard Sergio Garcia were tied for fourth on seven under.
Fleetwood started his day with back-to-back eagles and matched Mickelson's 65, while Garcia shot a 66.