McIlroy roars out to a 2-shot lead in Mexico Championship

Full Screen
1 / 5

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, right, speaks with Tommy Fleetwood of England as they wait at the second tee off during the first round of the WGC-Mexico Championship golf tournament, at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, Mexico City, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY – Rory McIlroy switched back to his old putter for the Mexico Championship and it made a world of difference. It helps that he's still hitting the ball like the No. 1 player in the world.

McIlroy ripped a 4-iron from 275 yards into the thin air at Chapultepec to 15 feet for eagle on his second hole Thursday, made five more birdies and opened the Mexico Championship with a 6-under 65 for a two-shot lead.

This is the only World Golf Championship that McIlroy hasn't won as he tries to join Dustin Johnson as the only players to win all four of them.

Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson were at 67.

Abraham Ancer of Mexico got some of the biggest cheers, especially when he ran off three straight birdies to overcome a rough start. He opened with a 70.

The course, at about 7,800 feet above sea level, is ideal for McIlroy the way he launched the ball.

But this was about his putting. He took only 26 putts and ranked No. 4 in the key putting statistic for the round.

He attributes that to his regular 34-inch putter. A week ago at Riviera, he tried a 35-inch putter to help get his shoulder and elbow in a better position. But he said it hurt with lining up the putts, and it cost him. McIlroy was tied for the 54-hole lead and shot 73 in the final round — including a triple bogey on the fifth hole — and tied for fifth