WGC-Mexico Championship 2019: Dustin Johnson Leads After Strong Round 2

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2019

US golfer Dustin Johnson plays his shot at the tee three during the second round of the PGA World Golf Championship, at Chapultepec's Golf Club in Mexico City on February 22, 2019. - The WGC-Mexico Championship runs unitl February 24 (Photo by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Dustin Johnson surged into the lead at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Friday after shooting a four-under 67 in the second round to hold a two-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar.    

Johnson sits at 11 under for the tournament after another successful day at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Naucalpan, Mexico. The 34-year-old American carded four birdies and no bogeys Friday and moved from second place at the end of the first round into sole possession of the lead.

Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard through two rounds, courtesy of PGATour.com:

1. Dustin Johnson: -11 (67)

T-2. Rory McIlroy: -9 (70)

T-2. Matt Kuchar: -9 (67)

T-4. Sergio Garcia: -7 (66)

T-4. Tommy Fleetwood: -7 (65)

T-6. Cameron Smith: -6 (67)

T-6. Ian Poulter: -6 (68)

T-8. Kiradech Aphibarnrat: -5 (69)

T-8. Richard Sterne: -5 (68)

T-8. Charles Howell III: -5 (68)

T-8. Tiger Woods: -5 (66)

T-8. Tyrrell Hatton: -5 (70)

Johnson took the solo lead with a birdie on the par-four 12th, and he never looked back. He has now played two consecutive bogey-free rounds:


30 holes. 11 birdies. 0 bogeys. @DJohnsonPGA holds the solo lead @WGCMexico. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/eQKodJnZyj

Although DJ shot a more impressive seven-under 64 in the first round, he was consistent Friday with two birdies each on the front and back nines to go along with 14 pars.

Luke Elvy of Fox Sports noted that Johnson made it look like everything was coming easily to him:

Luke Elvy @Luke_Elvy

Dustin Johnson appears to be having one of those weeks. Making effortless birdies without a bead of sweat. It’s like computer game golf. #WCGMexico

While Johnson played a smooth, mistake-free round, he may need to turn it on over the weekend in order to hold off his closest competitors. Chief among them are McIlroy and Kuchar, who had fairly different performances Friday.

Like Johnson, Kuchar shot a four-under 67 and was able to keep pace with the leader. Meanwhile, McIlroy dropped out of first place because he was only able to muster a one-under 70 after shooting an eight-under 63 on Thursday.

Things started out promisingly for McIlroy on Friday with birdies on three of his first four holes, including the par-four first after he hit his tee shot over the green:


328 yards with a 2-iron. @McIlroyRory makes it look easy. His lead is now 2 @WGCMexico. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/XXfdTz4C6h

A bogey and a double bogey erased the Northern Irishman's hot start before he made the turn, but he was able to salvage the day with a birdie on No. 14.

While McIlroy and Kuchar are closest to the lead, Johnson may have to worry about England's Tommy Fleetwood more than both of them.

Following a pedestrian one-under 70 in the first round, Fleetwood had the best day Friday with a six-under 65, which moved him up 15 spots and leaves him four shots off the pace in a tie for fourth. Much of Fleetwood's success came on the first two holes Friday, as he eagled both.

After hitting a long eagle putt on No. 1, Fleetwood chipped in from the fairway on No. 2 to get his round off to an ideal start:


EAGLE-EAGLE start! 🦅🦅 A dream for @TommyFleetwood1. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/YHhI58baC2

According to Justin Ray of Golf Channel, it had been 10 years since a golfer started his round with two straight eagles on the PGA Tour:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGolf

Tommy Fleetwood: 1st player to begin @PGATOUR round with consecutive eagles since Sean O'Hair at Doral in 2009.

Other notable performances from Friday include that of Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is six shots off the pace in a tie for eighth.

While Aphibarnrat only carded a two-under 69 on Friday, he came within inches of an albatross on No. 1 and narrowly missed the second par-four ace in the history of the PGA Tour:


There has been one par-4 ace in PGA TOUR history. We were SO close to having a second just now. #QuickHits https://t.co/ShlJpU0RhU

Also, the biggest name in the field made some moves, as Tiger Woods is in a tie for eighth (up 17 spots on the leaderboard) after shooting a five-under 66. That tied him for the second-best score of the day along with Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen.

Woods got off to a hot start on the back nine, with birdies on three of four holes from Nos. 12-15:


3 birdies in 4 holes for @TigerWoods. He's now T11 at the @WGCMexico. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/CnizDhW7nh

Tiger did drop a stroke with his first and only bogey of the round on No. 17, but he bounced back by birdying the 18th and then recording two more on the front nine.

Woods' impressive round marked the continuation of the success he has enjoyed in World Golf Championship tournaments, per Ray:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGolf

Tiger Woods: 30th career round of 66 or lower in a World Golf Championship event, most all-time. Dustin Johnson is 2nd with 19.

Tiger has work to do in order to catch Johnson, but he has put himself in position for another strong finish after coming in a solid 15th at last week's Genesis Open at Riviera Golf Course.

Johnson has undoubtedly established himself as he golfer to beat, but with the likes of McIlroy, Kuchar, Fleetwood and Garcia lurking, the table is set for an entertaining and competitive weekend.