Rory McIlroy torched Club de Golf Chapultepec on Thursday in the first round of the WGC-Mexico Championship to the tune of an eagle, seven birdies and one bogey en route to a first-round 8-under par 63.
While the ball striking all day by the four-time major champion was exquisite, the highlight of a round full of them came on the first tee.
Playing the back nine first and making the turn in bogey-free, 4-under par 32, McIlroy stepped up to the 305-yard par-4 first hole with a 2-iron, but he wasn’t laying up. The Northern Irishman cut a beautiful 2-iron around the trees that frame the right side of the hole and nearly walked off with an ace.
The 307-yard 2-iron settled just outside six feet, and McIlroy converted the short putt for eagle. He would match his 4-under par front nine score on the back despite a bogey on the second-easiest hole on the course.
His 63 was enough to to give him a one-shot cushion over Dustin Johnson through 18 holes.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy,” McIlroy said, according to PGATour.com. “I hit a lot of good golf shots, but I left myself a lot of tap-ins for birdies. As 63s go, I shot 63 at Riviera last week, but this felt probably a little more stress-free.”
The tree-lined Chapultepec has a penchant for punishing off-target shots, and plenty of the world’s best felt that wrath during the first round. Defending champion Phil Mickelson struggled his way to an 8-over par 79 to sit in a tie for 70th place in the 72-man field.
Tiger Woods hit his opening tee shot out of bounds en route to an even-par 71. Marc Leishman shot a 6-over par 77 while Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau both posted 4-over par 75s.