Mexico City, Feb 23: Shubhankar Sharma had a rough time on the back nine as he skidded back to T-58th at the halfway stage of the
US$10.25 million World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. The 22-year-old Indian, who hit the spotlight at the same stage last year, shot six-over 77 that included a stretch from 14th that saw three bogeys and a double bogey.
Dustin Johnson, who is chasing a sixth World Golf Championships title, carded a 67 to take a two-shot lead over first round leader Rory McIlroy (63-70) and Matt Kuchar (66-67) while winner of 18 WGC titles, Tiger Woods, making his debut in the event, shot a 66 to move to T8 alongside Kiradech.
Sharma, who started on the tenth, never really got going as he had four bogeys and a double on the back stretch of the Club de Golf Chapultepec. He was six-over at the turn and his only consolation was a birdie on first, his tenth hole, and he gave that back with a bogey on fifth.
Sharma hit 8 of 14 fairways and 9 of 18 greens in regulation and did not have the rub of the green. A few times the ball either clipped the trees or were plugged in the bunker sides. There was also wind and he was affected by it. He gave away bogeys on two of the Par-5s and that hurt him.
A day after a double bogey on his first-ever hole in Mexico, Tiger Woods showed marked improvement with a second-round 66.
Making his third start of the season after a couple of top-20 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and Genesis Open, Woods hit 11 of 14 fairways, hit 13 greens in regulation and took just 26 putts. He also had a hard lip-out from 11 feet on the last as he moved from T-25th to T-8th.
Woods was injured for the first edition of the WGC-Mexico Championship in 2017, and didn’t qualify to play last year, when he was just starting to play his way back into form. He captured his 80th PGA TOUR title at the TOUR Championship to culminate his comeback season.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 79 on Thursday, improved by an amazing 14 shots with a second round 65 for T39, 13 shots behind the new leader.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who was T-5 last year, overcame a rocky four-putt double bogey start on Friday to remain in the top-10. Kiradech showed great resolve as he bounced back from his horror opening hole to sign for a second round two-under 69 for T8 position on five-under 137, six shots behind new leader Dustin Johnson.
Japan’s Shugo Imahira carded a 67 to move up to T20 on 140 while China’s Haotong Li traded three birdies against four bogeys en route to a 72 to lie a further stroke back in T25 heading into the weekend.
Kiradech was happy to stay on the fringe of contention as he attempts to become only the second Asian golfer after Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama to win a World Golf Championships event.