Scoring was the order of the day in Mexico on Friday, as the three players occupying the top two spots going into the weekend, all carded rounds of 63 or better.
Leader, Bryson DeChambeau rolled in seven birdies in eight holes, including a 46t putt at the Par-3, 7th, to sign off for a 63 going into moving day. His nine birdies yesterday were the most he’s posted in a single round in his career, but a lone bogey meant he couldn’t match his career-low round.
Patrick Reed, who has once again been shrouded in controversy this week let his golf do the talking, as he tied DeChambeau’s 63 and sits just one behind his fellow American with two rounds to go. Reed is looking for his second WGC victory and first win of the new season.
The best round of the day, however went to South Africa’s, Erik Van Rooyen, who tied the course record with a round of 62, on his 30th birthday. Nine birdies and zero bogeys means he joins Reed in sitting one behind the overnight leader. Van Rooyen’s stock rose significantly in 2019, as he found his first win on the European Tour at the Scandinavian Invitation, as well as runner-up finishes in Qatar and Turkey and also his first top-10 in a major (T8 PGA Championship). A win this week would elevate him to another level in world golf and could take him into the top-30 in the world rankings for the first time.
Next best on Friday was Japan’s, Hideki Matsuyama who’s two bogeys in his last three holes saw him fall from a tie for the lead, into a tie for third on nine-under-par. Matsuyama had four birdies on his front-nine after teeing off at the 10th, and he started his back-nine strongly with three straight birdies. Despite the disappointment of two dropped shots at the end, Matsuyama has put himself right in the mix to win his second WGC event, and looks set to make another good run at the majors this season, given his early form.
2018 runner-up, Justin Thomas, who has twice posted 62 around this course also had a good day as he shot a cool five-under-par round to stay in touch with the leaders at nine-under-par, just two shots off the lead at the halfway stage. We know he can come from off the pace here and he looks in a good position to do just that, as he tries to navigate a stacked leaderboard.
Round One leader, Rory McIlroy blitzed his way through the field on Thursday, but struggled to get much going throughout his round on day two. McIlroy opened with eight straight pars before bogeying the 9th, but four birdies on the back-nine, including three in his last five holes meant McIlroy stayed within three shots going into moving day. Although it wasn’t the round many would have expected from the World No.1, his resolve was there for all to see as he battled back from a poor opening nine holes, to at least post another sub-70 score and keep himself in the hunt.
Tyrrell Hatton, Sebastián Muñoz, Corey Conners and Paul Casey round off the top-10 at the halfway stage, but a whopping eight players are tied for 11th, including major champions’, Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland.
Also tied for 11th are Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood and they join Casey and Hatton (T7) as the leading English contingent, but they will all have their work cut out to leapfrog a strong group at the top this weekend.