Shubhankar Sharma makes a fighting 70, Dustin Johnson races ahead

Dustin Johnson fired an eagle and five birdies as took full control of the WGC Mexico Championship with a four-stroke advantage over Rory McIlroy

375
Dustin Johnson leads WGC Mexico Championship

24 February 2019: On a dramatic day at the WGC Mexico Championship, Dustin Johnson emerged front runner by a mile as he took a four stroke lead over Rory McIlroy at the end of the third round at the Club de Golf Chapultepec. Shubhankar Sharma put his second round travails behind him with a fighting 70. Johnson was irrepressible as he put his foot on the pedal and drew clear of the field with a brilliant 67.

Shubhankar began Saturday with birdies at the 11th and 15th, punctuated by a bogey at the 14th as he made the turn in 35 strokes. Birdies at the first and eighth holes were negated by back to back bogeys at the third and fourth as he worked his way back into the clubhouse.

PGA TOUR Notes

In his third round at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, Shubhankar Sharma hit 9 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation, finishing at 4 over for the tournament. Sharma finished his day tied for 54th at 4 over;

On the 622-yard par-5 11th hole, Sharma reached the green in 3 and sunk a 28-foot putt for birdie. This moved Sharma to 1 under for the round.

Sharma had a 354-yard drive to the right rough. He ended up getting on the green in 3 and two putting for a bogey on the 497-yard par-4 14th. This moved Sharma to even-par for the round.

After a drive to the right side of the fairway on the 575-yard par-5 15th hole, Sharma hit an approach shot from 236 yards to 10 feet, setting himself up for the birdie on the hole. This moved Sharma to 1 under for the round.

After a drive to the right side of the fairway on the 388-yard par-4 18th hole, Sharma chipped in his fourth from 6 yards, carding a par for the hole. This kept Sharma at 1 under for the round.

On the 316-yard par-4 first Sharma hit his tee shot 319 yards to the green. He ended up two putting for a birdie. This moved Sharma to 2 under for the round.

On the 186-yard par-3 third, Sharma hit the green off the tee but had a three-putt after missing a putt from 8-feet for a par and finished with a bogey. This put Sharma at 1 under for the round.

At the 506-yard par-4 fourth, Sharma’s tee shot went 280 yards to the left side of the fairway, his second shot went 206 yards to the right greenside bunker, and his sand shot went 11 yards to the green where he had a two-putt for a bogey. This moved Sharma to even for the round. 

On the par-4 eighth, Sharma’s 205 yard approach to 11 feet set himself up for the birdie on the hole. This moved Sharma to 1 under for the round.

DJ is the only golfer to have won each of the WGC titles at least once. And the two time winner of the WGC Mexico Championship took a big stride towards securing a sixth WGC title. He was ahead by six through eight holes, but a double bogey at the 10th, his first blemish of the week pulled him back a bit.

“I think I’m doing just everything really well. I feel like I’m driving it well. I’m really controlling the distance well with the irons, and I just feel good. The putter is pretty good too. I mean, these greens are tricky. I feel like I keep giving myself great opportunities. Hopefully tomorrow I can capitalise on a few more.

“I played really well the front nine, even though I missed quite a few short birdie putts on the front nine.  And on ten, I actually had a decent shot at the flag, I just misjudged the lie a little bit. I don’t know what happened, but it shot straight up in the air, and I did not think it was going to come out like that. Then a lot of stuff happened after that, but I ended up making a double. I didn’t let it bother me, because I knew I’m playing well, and I knew there was plenty of holes I could make birdies on. 

“I’m going to come out and play exactly how I have been playing the last three days. The guys behind me, I’ve got a lot of great players behind me. I’m going to have to go out and shoot a good score probably.”

An errant McIlroy made just 9 of 18 greens in regulation during his third round at the WGC Mexico Championship, finishing at 12 under through 54 holes. Playing alongside Johnson, he had the best ticket in the house watching a forceful performance by the American.

“Obviously, four shots behind DJ, it’s going to be a tall order to overcome. I was happy with how I played the last ten holes, being one over through the first eight and then playing the last ten in four under was nice, I gave myself plenty of chances. 

“It was just end of the day, there was a lot of traffic on these greens. It’s hard to hole putts, and putts are sort of doing some different things. But, I need to get off to a better start tomorrow than I did today. If I can do that, hopefully I will be right back in it.

“I played the par fives better today. I played those in two under par, which I needed to. I just stayed patient. Being six shots off the lead after eight holes today, it was hard to stay patient, but I feel like my patience was rewarded. I made some good birdies coming in and I’m still four behind. It’s going to be tough, especially against DJ, who is arguably the best player in the world. So, I’m going to have to go out there and just play a good round of golf and hopefully that’s good enough.”

Americans Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Australian Cameron Smith were seven shots off the lead as the stage was set for a Sunday duel between Johnson and McIlroy.

Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat and England’s Ian Poulter were at eight under, two shots clear of Tommy Fleetwood, David Lipsky, Louis Oosthuizen and Tiger Woods.