DJ Leads Rory, Kooch by 2 in WGC-Mexico

Dustin Johnson is one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, but surprisingly he likes the narrow fairways at Club de Golf Chapultepec www.Club de Golf Chapultepec in the high altitude of Naucalpan, Mexico, just west of Mexico City.

The third-ranked Johnson carded a score of 4-under-par 67 to take a two-stroke lead over first-round leader Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Matt Kuchar midway through the WGC-Mexico Championship.

“I’ve just been hitting a lot of fairways and greens,” said DJ, who has won five WGC events—second to Tiger Woods—including this tournament in 2017. “The greens are tricky and there were a lot of tough pins today, but my speed on the greens was good and I gave myself a lot of looks at birdie.

“I enjoy this kind of golf. You have to calculate things and figure things out (because of the altitude). I like this golf course, even though the fairways are narrow. It’s tree-lined and I enjoy that.”

Johnson recorded a score of 11-under 133 and is bogey-free through 36 holes.

The ninth-ranked McIlroy, who opened with a 63, birdied three of his first four holes and stretched his lead to four strokes before stumbling with a bogey 6 on the seventh hole and a double-bogey 6 on the ninth en route to a 70, while Kuchar collected five birdies on the front nine while shooting 67.

Tommy Fleetwood of England holed a 19-foot eagle putt on the first hole and a 39-yard eagle pitch on the second to kick-start a 65 and is four shots back in a tie for fourth with Sergio Garcia of Spain, who birdied four of the first six holes in a 66.

Cameron Smith of Australia had six birdies in a 66 and is one more down in a tie for sixth with Ian Poulter of England, who had a 68 that included seven birdies, while 18-time WGC winner Woods shot 66 and is six down in a tie for seventh that includes Charles Howell III (68), Richard Sterne (68) of South Africa, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69) of Thailand and Tyrrell Hatton (70) of England.

Tenth-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy is tied for 13th after a 67, fourth-ranked Justin Thomas struggled to a 73 and is tied for 16th, and seventh-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla also had a 73 and is tied for 28th.

Second-ranked Brooks Koepka finished at 70 and is tied for 35th, sixth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain posted a 72 and is in a tie for 39th that includes ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler, who had a 73, and fifth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis is 63rd following another 73.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson bounced back from an opening 79 with a 65 and is tied for 39th.

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