After sitting out since January with a stress fracture in one of his ribs, Rory McIlroy stepped to the 10th tee at the WGC-Mexico Championship, his first hole of the day. He waggled his Callaway Epic driver a couple of times and pummeled a 341-yard shot into the thin air of Club de Golf Chapultepec to mark that he was indeed back.
McIlroy made one birdie on his front nine for the day and played mostly even golf until he came to the par-5 sixth a few hours later. He had 256 yards to go on his second shot when he ripped a long iron past the hole. He made the 30-foot eagle to get to 3 under on the day.
McIlroy was unsurprisingly No. 6 in the field in strokes gained off the tee and is one stroke back of a group of six golfers that includes Jon Rahm, Lee Westwood and 46-year-old Phil Mickelson.
After a solid west coast swing that showed Lefty still has a ways to go when it comes to finishing tournaments strong following two offseason sports hernia surgeries, he shot a 4-under 67 in Round 1 that included six birdies.
Mickelson was stunningly good off the tee, putted like his usual self and now holds the co-lead with 54 holes left.
He could not close out 72 holes in the tournaments he played on the west coast as he often posted a final nine-hole score well over par so there is a long way to go. But this is certainly the start Mickelson needed as he looks for his first win since summer 2013.
Mickelson shares the 4-under lead with Ross Fisher, Jimmy Walker, Lee Westwood, Jon Rahm and Ryan Moore.