Rory McIlroy had a prime chance at a 19th career PGA Tour last week at Riviera, but his putter failed him on the weekend. He lost strokes on the green both Saturday and Sunday, causing him to fall into a tie for fifth after beginning the final round in a tie for the lead. Somebody, or some thing, was going to have to pay for that.
That some thing was McIlroy's new putter, a one-inch longer version of his old TaylorMade Spider X Copper. The Northern Irishman decided to bring the old, 34-inch version back out for the first round of the WGC-Mexico, and it proved to be the right move. He opened with a six-under 65 on Thursday at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Through one round, he ranks fourth in the field in strokes-gained: putting.
"You know, I think [on Sunday] at Genesis, I played 17 holes in one-under par and then I obviously had a bad hole on the 5th," McIlroy said. "But I actually took a lot of positives. I hung in there. I holed a nice one at the last at Riviera, which sort of gave me a little bit of momentum going into this week.
"But I changed my putter. I changed my putter when I got here. I went back to my old putter. I was sort of trying out a new putter last week and it didn't quite work out the way I wanted it to, so I went back to the 34-inch. I was using a 35 last week. Yeah, I just felt a little bit more comfortable today and was seeing my lines a little bit better, and yeah, it was a good day."
McIlroy's round began on the back nine, where he made par at the 10th hole and then piped a 342-yard drive at the par-5 11th. From there he hit a 275-yard 4 iron to 15 feet and holed the eagle putt. He made five more birdies, including two at each of the remaining par 5s, and just one bogey.
He leads by two over Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas, who has finished ninth, second and T-5 in three trips to Mexico City. Watson has just one top 10 in his three appearances.
Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Billy Horschel and Corey Conners are tied for fourth at three under.
Up-to-the-minute leader board and other scoring information for the Genesis Invitational, Feb. 13-16, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
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