Saturday, February 23, 2019

EUROPEANS ON DUSTIN JOHNSON'S TAIL

AT WGC-MEXICO CHAMPIONSHIP

Dustin Johnson opened up a two-shot lead heading into the weekend at the WGC-Mexico Championship but he has a host of European Tour stars chasing him down at Chapultepec Golf Club.
The American stretched his bogey-free run in Mexico City to 48 holes with a 67 that moved him to 11 under, with fellow American Matt Kuchar and four time Major Championship winner Rory McIlroy his nearest challengers.
England's Tommy Fleetwood carded a 65 to sit at seven under alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia, one shot clear of England's Ian Poulter and Australian PGA Championship winner Cameron Smith.
Saudi International powered by SBIA champion Johnson is the only player to have won all four World Golf Championships titles and has claimed this one twice, including its first staging in Mexico City two years ago.
Fleetwood made a spectacular start, driving the first green and pitching in at the second to become the first player in ten years to begin his round eagle-eagle on the European Tour. A 21-foot putt on the eighth helped him turn in 30 and he capitalised on the par fives on the back before surrendering a three-putt on the 17th.
Tiger Woods carded a 66 with six birdies and a bogey to get to five under but his round will be remembered for his second shot on the ninth. The 14 time Major Championship was in a bunker and blocked out but hit an outrageous slice around the trees and saw his ball hop right and finish 11 feet from the hole.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Tyrrell Hatton, Charles Howell III and Richard Sterne were also six shots off the lead.
Player Quotes
Dustin Johnson: “I just hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. My speed has been pretty good with the putter. The greens were really tricky, and I had some really tough flights today, but I have just done a really good job with controlling my distance with my irons and giving myself a lot of looks at birdies.
“I just enjoy playing this kind of golf. It makes you focus. You’ve got to think and you're doing a lot of calculations with the numbers and trying to figure out how far the ball is going to actually go. I like this golf course. It does set up well for me. It's pretty narrow, but it's treelined, so I do like that.”
Rory McIlroy: “The only time it matters when you're leading is after the 72nd hole. So much golf to play. This tournament hasn't even started yet, so I'm in a good position. I played pretty well over the first couple days. Just going to try to play similarly over the weekend and hopefully take advantage of the par fives and some of the shorter par fours and we'll see where that puts me at the end of the week.
“I feel like I did most things pretty well today. Maybe wasn't quite as good on the greens, but I think even that hour and a half difference teeing off at 11:30am compared to nearly 1:00pm, it makes a difference, just that extra traffic out there.” 
Tommy Fleetwood: “It's not something that happens very often, is it? I'll take it, though. It's a good way to start, a good way to get a little bit of momentum.
“I think it was good because I didn't finish very well yesterday, so I sort of played pretty well yesterday. Hit a couple of bad shots towards the end and dropped, so it was nice to actually catapult myself up there early on and kind of just go from there and kind of keep moving forward.”
Sergio Garcia: “I obviously got off to a great start birdieing the first three and I hit the ball better than yesterday. Yesterday I scrambled really, really well. Today I hit a lot of good tee shots, a lot of good iron shots, gave myself a lot of good birdie chances, rolled a good amount of them in. Anytime you're making seven birdies in a round, you can't be disappointed. I'm happy with it and hopefully we'll keep doing more of the same on the weekend"

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