Johnson takes advantage of McIlroy’s struggles on the greens

McIlroy finishes two off the lead after enjoying four-shot lead in second round

Rory  McIlroy blasts out of a greenside bunker on the first hole during the second round of the  WGC-Mexico Championship  at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City. Photograph:  Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy blasts out of a greenside bunker on the first hole during the second round of the WGC-Mexico Championship at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City. Photograph: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

 

How thoughts of a procession can quickly evaporate. Four holes into his second round at the WGC-Mexico Championship Rory McIlroy had already backed up an opening 63 with another three birdies. His lead over the field was four.

Even a dropped shot at the 6th, after McIlroy found water when trying to reach the par five in two, did not particularly register. Worse, as he afforded hope to the remainder of the field, was to follow. McIlroy four-putted from the fringe of the 9th for a double bogey. He missed from three feet at the 15th. All the while, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar lurked with intent.

McIlroy remains a key part of this tournament, his second round of 70 meaning he is still very much in contention but success will not come as easily as had appeared. Johnson has opened up a two-shot lead.

There would of course be eyebrows raised should Kuchar prevail again in Mexico; an almighty rumpus developed after he low-balled a local caddie on victory in this country three months ago.

Tiger Woods backed up a level-par 71 with a 66, which leaves the 14-times Major champion with hopes of a weekend leaderboard assault.

“The winning score here really hasn’t been all that low,” Woods said. “You can get it going pretty good around this course, which is fun, but also it can go the other way without it taking much.

“I got a little more familiar with the course. I got a better feel for the tee shots, the lines, approach shots and the greens. It helped to have that one look in a competitive environment. Overall this was a pretty good day, I got a lot out of the round.”

Woods offered rare personal insight when assessing how his level of patience, as is required at this venue, has risen since childhood.

“It wasn’t my natural strong suit, that’s for sure,” he added. “My dad was a very patient man and I learned by being around him. As I matured by being around this game, I got a little more patient; especially since having kids, that definitely will test one’s patience.”

Sergio Garcia dropped a shot at the last but can still be content with a 66 that moved him to minus seven.

Rickie Fowler fell victim to the long arm of the golfing law after being penalised for an illegal drop on his first hole of the day. Fowler shanked his second shot out of bounds with his drop taken from shoulder rather than knee height, as per new rules introduced in January. Fowler signed for a 73 and 36-hole total of two over.

Shane Lowry carded a five-over second round of 76 in the second round to slip back to four over in the no-cut event. – Guardian

LEADERBOARD

(Par 71, British and Irish unless stated)

131 Dustin Johnson (USA) 64 67

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

135 Tommy Fleetwood 70 65, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 69 66

136 Cameron Smith (Aus) 69 67, Ian Poulter 68 68

137 Tiger Woods (USA) 71 66, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 69, Tyrrell Hatton 67 70, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 69 68, Charles Howell III (USA) 69 68

138 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 71 67, Joost Luiten (Ned) 71 67, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 72 66

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

140 Shugo Imahira (Jpn) 73 67, Danny Willett 71 69, Kevin Kisner (USA) 73 67, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 72 68, Patrick Reed (USA) 72 68

141 Haotong Li (Chn) 69 72, Aaron Wise (USA) 73 68, George Coetzee (Rsa) 67 74

142 Tony Finau (USA) 73 69, Keegan Bradley (USA) 69 73, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 72 70, Xander Schauffele (USA) 69 73, Patton Kizzire (USA) 69 73, Branden Grace (Rsa) 71 71, Gary Woodland (USA) 71 71

143 Brooks Koepka (USA) 73 70, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 71 72, Paul Casey 71 72, Matthew Fitzpatrick 72 71

144 Ryan Fox (Nzl) 72 72, Aaron Rai 70 74, Phil Mickelson (USA) 79 65, Jon Rahm (Esp) 72 72, Billy Horschel (USA) 68 76, Rickie Fowler (USA) 71 73, Russell Knox 72 72, Jordan Spieth (USA) 75 69, Lee Westwood 73 71

145 Matt Wallace 74 71, Kyle Stanley (USA) 73 72, Alex Noren (Swe) 71 74, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 75 70, Bubba Watson (USA) 70 75, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 76 69, Webb Simpson (USA) 73 72, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 72 73

146 Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 72 74, Shane Lowry 70 76

147 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 75 72, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 70 77

Kevin Na (USA) 72 75, Tom Lewis 74 73, Eddie Pepperell 77 70

148 Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 75 73

149 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 76 73

151 Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 77 74, Adrian Otaegui (Esp) 77 74, Chez Reavie (USA) 75 76

152 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 76 76, Marc Leishman (Aus) 77 75

156 Matthew Millar (Aus) 74 82

159 Sang Hyun Park (Kor) 80 79, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 79 80

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