The last of Rory McIlroy’s 23 pro victories came almost a year ago, but he seems to be getting back on track.
The 29-year-old from Northern Ireland, No. 9 in the World Golf Rankings, shot 8-under-par 63 to take a one-stroke lead over third-ranked Dustin Johnson after the first round of the WGC-Mexico Championship in the high altitude at Club de Golf Chapultepec www.clubdegolfchapultepec in Naucalpan, Mexico, just west of Mexico City.
“Winning is a matter of practicing well, training well, eating well and thinking well,” said McIlroy, who is looking for his third WGC title. “Winning is a product of doing all those little things well.
“I think it’s just a matter of time for me and I’ve been putting it all together this year, but you can’t push it. I’m just going to take it one day at a time moving forward.”
McIlroy collected seven birdies and holed a six-foot eagle putt at No. 1, making his only bogey on the sixth hole while coming home on the front nine, Johnson, who has five WGC victories, made seven birdies in his bogey-free 64.
“I did a little bit of everything well,” said DJ, who won in Mexico two years ago. “I drove the ball well, hit my irons well, controlled my distance and never really got into trouble. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself looks at birdie.
“But I made pars on a couple par-5s, missed a couple of short putts. I hit a lot of good shots and took advantage of the holes you have to. I think I have a pretty good game plan around here. All in all, I played very solid and it all worked out today.”
Fourth-ranked Justin Thomas holed out from 51 feet for an eagle on the 15th hole en route to a 66 and is in a tie for third with Matt Kuchar, who made his only bogey while finishing at No. 9, while Tyrrell Hatton of England had four birdies on the back nine in a 67 and is tied for fifth with George Coetzee of South Africa.
David Lipsky of Los Angeles, who has won three times around the world but not on the PGA Tour, totaled 68 and is tied for seventh with Ian Poulter of England, Billy Horschel and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand.
Seventh-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State is tied for 11th at 69, ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler totaled 71 and is in a tie for 25th that includes 10th-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy and Tiger Woods, who has won a record 18 WGC titles.
Sixth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain is in a tie for 35th at 72, second-ranked Brooks Koepka shot 73 and is tied for 47th, fifth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau is tied for 58th at 75, and defending champion Phil Mickelson stumbled to a 79 and is next-to-last in a tie for 70th. For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html