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McIlroy on fire as he storms into Mexico lead

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy is off to a sensational start in his first tournament after being sidelined due to a rib injury.

The four-time major champion shot a 65 last night to lead the WGC-Mexico Championship by two shots.

After shooting 67 on Thursday the Holywood star maintained his sizzling form and turned up the heat on the par-4 14th hole when recording a stunning eagle.

McIlroy's drive left him about 150 yards to the hole, he then took a swipe at the ball and nervously watched it as it flew slightly offline.

But then the ball landed on the bank 20 feet left of the hole, bounced sideways and rolled into the cup.

"I'm in a great position but it could have been even better for me," said the 27-year-old. "I feel good and my body feels good - that's the main thing.

"I've just tried to take things one day at a time and not have too high expectations but everything is going well.

"Hopefully I can keep it going and I'll take things as they come."

On his superb eagle, McIlroy added: "That's the second one I've managed with a nine iron this year.

"I cut a bit of distance off it and it went a little left but I got a nice bounce and it's always a huge lift when they go in."

McIlroy has played just once previously this year due to a rib injury which saw him push through the pain barrier before losing to Graeme Storm in a play-off for the South African Open in January.

But he still arrived in Mexico knowing that he could reclaim top spot in the world rankings for the first time since August 2015 by winning his third WGC title, as long as current number one Dustin Johnson finishes joint fourth or worse.

McIlroy is on nine under par, two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson, Ross Fisher and Justin Thomas.

Five-time major winner Mickelson showed few ill effects after being forced to change his caddie on day two of the £7.9million Championship.

Mickelson's long-time caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay lasted just three holes of yesterday's second round before being forced to leave the course due to a stomach virus which has affected several players in Mexico City.

Fortunately for Mickelson, his brother Tim had been alerted to the problem and was on hand to take over on the bag as his sibling looked to remain in contention for a third World Golf Championship title. Starting on the back nine at Chapultepec Golf Club, Mickelson carded two birdies and one bogey in his first 11 holes to reach five under par, two shots behind England's Ross Fisher.

Fisher had also started his round from the 10th and picked up shots on the 11th, 15th and 16th to spearhead a strong European challenge, with McIlroy just a shot behind on his return to competitive action.

On a highly-congested leaderboard, England's Andy Sullivan and Tyrrell Hatton were alongside Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Roberto Castro on five under, with Lee Westwood and Johnson a shot further back.

Olympic champion Justin Rose was on three under par alongside Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer, with 31 of the 76-strong high-class field separated by just five shots.

Mickelson birdied the sixth and eighth on his way to a second round of 68 to set the clubhouse target of seven under par, a shot ahead of Sullivan.

Sullivan, who had holed his approach to the ninth for an eagle two before carding birdies on the 11th, 15th and 16th, dropped his only shot of the day on the 18th before signing for a superb 65, the lowest score of the week so far.

Belfast Telegraph

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