WORLD No.3 Rory McIlroy has showed no signs of rust or illness during his surge to the top of the leaderboard at the World Golf Championship in Mexico on Friday (Saturday AEDT).
Just 24 hours after suffering a brutal stomach bug, the 27-year-old fired a sizzling second round of six-under-par 65 at Mexico City’s Club de Golf Chapultepec that included a beautiful eagle from 150 yards on the 14th hole.
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The Northern Irishman climbed to nine under and will take a two-shot lead into the third round over five-time major winner Phil Mickelson (68), American Justin Thomas (66) and England’s Ross Fisher (68).
“The stomach thing is pretty much gone; I think it was just a 24-hour thing,” McIlroy said.
“I stayed in bed for about 14 hours last night and woke up this morning feeling brand new.”
In his first tournament since suffering a stress fracture to his rib in early January, four-time major champion McIlroy said he’d already exceeded his expectations.
“The rib feels good and everything. Yeah, physically, I’m happy with (the 36-hole lead),” he said.
“I didn’t really know what to expect; it’s my first competitive week after seven weeks (recovering from) injury.
“I’ve definitely exceeded expectations up until this point.”
McIlroy faced no challenge from defending WGC champion Adam Scott, who plummeted out of contention with a 76.
The Australian world No.7, who won the 2016 WGC at Miami’s Doral course, dropped to 68th place at seven over.
Marcus Fraser emerged as the leading Australian after mounting a gutsy comeback from two over, halfway through his second round.
The 38-year-old bagged three back-nine birdies and signed for a hard-earned 70, climbing to one under for the tournament in a tie for 32nd.
“One under was a good result considering I had a rough start; I made a couple of silly errors,” Fraser said.
Fraser, who represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics, believes a 25-minute wait on the 11th tee was the secret to salvaging his score.
“It was probably a good thing as I almost felt like I was starting the round again; I felt pretty comfortable from then and made a couple of long putts coming home.”
Compatriot Sam Brazel staged a fightback of his own – starting the second round at four over, the Tamworth export clawed his way back with a Friday 68. Brazel sits at one over in a share of 40th, while Scott Hend (71) was next best of the Australians in 60th place at five over.
Victorian native Matt Griffin rounded out the Australian contingent, struggling to a 77 to be near the bottom of the field at 13 over.
Originally published as Video: McIlroy nails incredible eagle in Mexico