Six things to know after the opening round of the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship, where Rory McIlroy leads Dustin Johnson by a stroke at Club De Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.
1. Rory Leads: The 29-year old Northern Irishman shot a first-day 63 highlighted by seven birdies and a eagle-2 on the par-4 first hole. McIlroy hit 10 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens.
2. DJ One Back: The world No. 3 ranked golfer posted a bogey-free 64 – the day’s only clean round. DJ’s card was comprised of 11 pars alongside seven birdies, highlighted by a pair on Nos. 1-2 and a hat trick on Nos. 10-12. The 34-year old South Carolinian hit 11 of 14 fairways, and 13 of 18 greens.
3. JT Stays Hot: Entering Mexico, Justin Thomas had posted three top-3s in his last four starts, including last week’s disappointing runner-up at Riviera. After a round-one 66, JT is in a familiar spot – tied for third, and in hunt. Despite a shaky day with accuracy (8 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens), JT finished with four birdies and one eagle against just a single bogey.
4. Kuchar Thrives: Coming off his most trying week as a PGA Tour pro, Matt Kuchar seemed to ignore the noise on Thursday, putting together an impressive round of 66, despite a final-hole bogey. He sits T3 alongside Thomas.
5. Phil Struggles: Defending champion Phil Mickelson seemed to be on fumes last week at Riviera, and we wondered whether another week of golf was just too much for the 48-year old legend. Well, it seems like our concern had merit, as the 5-time major winner posted a first-round 79, which included eight bogeys and a double.
6. Spieth Struggles Too: Former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth is either in the midst of a horrific slump or he’s fallen off a cliff ala David Duval. The one-time “Golden Child” has posted nothing better than a T35 in six starts this season. After day one in Mexico, Spieth too finds himself (unfortunately) in a familiar place – T58, following a 4-over 75.
WGC-MEXICO CHAMPIONSHIP: ROUND 1
ROUND-ONE: TOP 10 LEADERS
1. Rory McIlroy -8
2. Dustin Johnson -7
3. Justin Thomas -5
3. Matt Kuchar -5
5. George Coetzee -4
5. Tyrrell Hatton -4
7. David Lipsky -3
7. Billy Horschel -3
7. Ian Poulter -3
7. Kiradech Aphibarnrat -3
ROUND-ONE STAT LEADERS
Driving: Bubba Watson – 370.1 yards (T19)
Fairways: Paul Casey – 13/14, 92.9% (T25)
Greens: Rory McIlroy – 17/18, 94.4% (1)
Tot Accuracy: Paul Casey – 28/32, 87.5% (T25)
Putts/GIR: Shane Lowry – 1.500 (T19)
Birdies: Dustin Johnson – 7 (2), McIlroy – 7 (1)
Pars: Matthew Fitzpatrick – 15 (T35)
Bogeys: Shaun Norris – 9 (T70)
ROUND-ONE VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Credit: PGA TOUR
Rory, when you putt the way you putted today, how much does that free up the rest of your game?
“I mean, I think, yeah, when you’re confident with the flatstick, you’re not putting yourself under pressure to hit it closer to the hole or trying to take on shots that you don’t feel you need to. I think it was nice going from Riviera last week, which is poa, straight to here, which is obviously poa again. I had three pretty good putting rounds at Riviera, the second, third and fourth rounds. So yeah, I got a little bit of confidence last week and it’s nice to see that carry on to this week as well.”
– Rory McIlroy
Not only have you played well in the past here, but coming off Riviera, have you decided to get back out there and compete once again?
“You know, it’s the time of year where you kind of get into a little bit of a rhythm, but you also need to kind of conserve your energy. And this being the second of third in a row, being potentially Phoenix and here, that takes a little bit more out of you. So I took Monday completely off. And I think I had left my hotel room just for dinner and for some treatment. But I felt like I got — once I got rested and kind of got my feet back under me, once we teed it up, I was somewhat ready to go.”
– Justin Thomas
There’s a lot of ways of thinking, math’s involved, calculations, bell curves. What’s your strategy?
“Get a number, take a percentage off and I go with it. I try to keep it as simple as possible.”
– Dustin Johnson