PGA Tour

Johnson opens 2-shot halfway lead in Mexico

2019-02-23 06:40
Dustin Johnson (Getty)

Mexico City - Dustin Johnson fired his second straight bogey-free round on Friday, a four-under par 67 that gave him a two-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Johnson's methodical approach at Club de Golf Chapultepec paid dividends as he overhauled first-round leader McIlroy on a day when 14-time major champion Tiger Woods moved into the top 10 with a five-under 66.

"I've just done a really good job with controlling my distance with my irons and giving myself a lot of looks at birdies," said Johnson, who had never before in his US PGA Tour career opened a tournament with two bogey-free rounds.

The 2017 WGC-Mexico champion said he enjoyed the challenge of adjusting to the altitude.

"It makes you focus, you've got to think and you're doing a lot of calculations with the numbers, trying to figure out how far the ball is going to actually go," he said.

McIlroy, who opened Thursday with an eight-under par 63, picked up where he left off with three birdies in his first four holes.

But he found the water for a bogey at the sixth and then made a double-bogey at the par-four ninth, where he was 15 feet from the fringe with his second shot but needed four putts from there.

He signed for a one-under 71 for nine-under 133. He was joined by Kuchar, who opened with four straight birdies in a four-under 67.

Spain's Sergio Garcia and England's Tommy Fleetwood were tied for fourth on 135, Garcia posting a 66 and Fleetwood a 65 that started with back-to-back eagles at the first and second - both par-fours.

Fleetwood tied for low round of the day with Phil Mickelson, who had opened his title defence with a horrendous 79, only to bounce back with a bogey-free 65.

Woods climbed the leaderboard with a five-under 66 that featured six birdies and an unlikely par at his finishing hole, the par-four ninth.

In a fairway bunker off the tee, Woods produced a vintage recovery shot, cutting a nine-iron around a tree, the ball spinning back some 20 feet toward the hole.

It left him an 11-foot birdie putt that lipped out.

"The ball was sitting down just enough where I didn't think I could clear the tree," said Woods, who first went for his eight-iron but decided it would come out too hot.

"I went back to the nine-iron, I realised 'I've really got to slice this thing,'" he said.

"I opened up and gave it as much of a cut motion as I could and it worked out."

Woods had made a scrambling start to his round, rolling in a nine-footer for his first birdie at the 12th. He birdied 14 and got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker at 15.

He gave a shot back at 17, but drained a 13-footer at 18 to make the turn three-under. He rolled in a 22-footer for birdie at the third and picked up another shot at the fifth to stand tied for eighth - six shots off the lead - heading into the weekend.

Leading second-round scores on Friday in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship (USA unless noted, par-71):

131 - Dustin Johnson 64-67

133 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 63-70, Matt Kuchar 66-67

135 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69-66, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 70-65

136 - Cameron Smith (AUS) 69-67, Ian Poulter (ENG) 68-68

137 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 68-69, Richard Sterne (RSA) 69-68, Charles Howell 69-68, Tiger Woods 71-66, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 67-70

138 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 72-66, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 71-67, Joost Luiten (NED) 71-67

139 - Jake McLeod (AUS) 70-69, Patrick Cantlay 72-67, David Lipsky 68-71, Justin Thomas 66-73

140 - Kevin Kisner 73-67, Patrick Reed 72-68, Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 72-68, Shugo Imahira (JPN) 73-67, Danny Willett (ENG) 71-69

141 - George Coetzee (RSA) 67-74, Aaron Wise 73-68, Li Haotong (CHN) 69-72

Read more on:    dustin johnson  |  golf


Read News24’s Comments Policy


Which is your favourite event on the golfing calendar?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.