MEXICO CITY (AP) — Sore ribs or sore stomach, it doesn’t seem to matter to Rory McIlroy. After being gone for seven weeks, he took a two-shot lead into the weekend at the Mexico Championship with a chance to return to No. 1 in the world.
McIlroy holed out from 156 yards for eagle on the 14th hole, part of a three-hole stretch Friday when he seized control at Chapultepec Golf Club. McIlroy missed putts inside 6 feet on his last three holes — one for par, two for birdie — and still shot a 6-under 65.
“Look, I’m in a great position,” McIlroy said. “But I felt like I could have been a few more ahead.”
He got 14 hours of sleep to help overcome a stomach virus and said he was feeling a little better.
His game looked better than ever. McIlroy was at 9-under 133, two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson (68), Justin Thomas (66) and Ross Fisher (68).
McIlroy is playing for the first time since losing a playoff Jan. 15 in South Africa. He was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his rib the next day and missed four tournaments on his schedule to make sure it healed properly. There seems to be little debate about that.
Mickelson will in the final group on the weekend for the first time since his runner-up finish to Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon in the British Open. And he got there without his longtime caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, who fell ill on fourth hole and turned the bag over to Mickelson’s younger brother, Tim.
Thomas won the opening two events of the year in Hawaii.
HSBC WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS
SINGAPORE (AP) — Inbee Park birdied the final hole for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead over Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn and Hur Mi-Jung in the HSBC Women’s Champions.
Park made a double bogey on the 12th hole, the South Korean star’s only blemish in two rounds at Sentosa, and rebounded with birdies on 14 and 18. The Olympic champion had a 10-under 134 total.
Wie followed her opening 66 with a bogey-free 69. Hur shot 67, and Jutanugarn had a 68.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko (68) was 7 under.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Scotland’s Scott Jamieson shot a 6-under 65 for a share of the Tshwane Open lead with Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.
Bjork had a 67 to match Jamieson at 10-under 132 at Pretoria Country Club. England’s James Morrison was a stroke back after a 66.