Bryson DeChambeau kept making so many birdies in the Mexico Championship that when he rolled in his ninth one from 45 feet, all he could do was throw his hands in the air in pure wonder.
He was not alone on Friday in making birdies, although Rory McIlroy would have liked to have joined the party.
DeChambeau made seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch at Chapultepec Golf Club for an 8-under 63, giving him a one-shot lead over Erik van Rooyen and Patrick Reed at the halfway point of this World Golf Championship.
Photo: Getty Images/AFP
DeChambeau was at 11-under 131.
Van Rooyen, who played college golf at Minnesota, celebrated his 30th birthday by making nine birdies to tie the course record with a 62. Reed made five birdies on the back nine for a 63.
Justin Thomas ran off four straight birdies to end the back nine, and then holed a 35-foot eagle putt to build a three-shot lead through 10 holes.
That was gone in a matter of four holes as player after player kept rolling in putts on a day with much less wind and far better scoring. The average score was 70.28, more than two shots better than on Thursday.
Hideki Matusyama was nine under for his round through 15 holes and had a 20-footer birdie attempt from the fringe on the par-3 seventh. He missed that 3 feet to the left, then missed the next one. He bogeyed the next hole, too, and had to settle for a 64.
That left him at nine-under 133, along with Thomas, who had to settle for a 66.
McIlroy was not so fortunate. Staked to a two-shot lead at the start of the day, he opened with eight straight pars, did not make a birdie until his 12th hole and fell six shots behind at one point.
Two birdies at the end gave him a 69, and the world’s No. 1 player was only three shots behind.
“I made eight pars in a row, and then it’s like, `OK, you’re either going to make a birdie or a bogey. What’s going to come first?’ And I ended up making bogey,” McIlroy said. “There’s a long way to go.”
DeChambeau can use all the science he wants with calculations for altitude and air density. The difference for him on this day was not that difficult to figure out.
“I just made a lot of putts today,” he said.
His big run began on the 18th hole with a 15-foot birdie putt. He got up-and-down from short of the green on the reachable par-4 first hole, made a 15-footer on the net hole, added a few birdies inside 6 feet, and then made a 25-foot birdie. That apparently was not enough.
His tee shot on the 223-yard seventh hole with a green fronted by water went toward the back of the putting surface, leaving DeChambeau a downhill putt that is tough to lag. His putt was perfect pace, and a perfect line, as it turned out.
“I just threw my hands up in the air. I mean, come on. Who thinks I’m going to make this one?” DeChambeau said. “Matt [Fitzpatrick] just looked at me and he was like: ‘What are you doing? Go get a lottery ticket or something.’”
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