Shubhankar starts with solid 70

Shubhankar starts with solid 70

India's Shubhankar Sharma made two birdies over the last four holes to ensure a solid start with a score of one-under 70 to be placed tied 19th after the first round of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship here.

Shubhankar, 22, who catapulted into global fame by leading after 54 holes on his PGA Tour debut at the 2018 edition, is now tied 19th on a day when Rory McIlroy (63) and Dustin Johnson (64) pulled themselves well clear of the field at the par-71 Chapultepec Golf Club.

Last year Shubhankar finished tied ninth at the USD 10.25 million tournament here.

Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat produced his best opening round of the year on the PGA Tour, carding a three-under 68 for a share of the seventh spot.

Kiradech traded five birdies against two bogeys to trail first round leader McIlroy, who enjoyed a blistering 63 featuring an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey.

China's Haotong Li dropped two late bogeys to settle for a 69, leaving him in tied 11th, while Shubhankar had a roller-coaster day with four birdies against three bogeys.

He had a nice start on the 387-yard par-4 second, where he drove 349 yards and chipped his second shot to two feet for a one-putt birdie.

But on the very next hole, the 186-yard par-3 third, Shubhankar's tee shot went 197 yards to the right rough and he hit his second shot to about nine yards from the stick from where he chipped to two feet and rolled in a two-footer for a bogey.

Shubhankar turned in one-over after going into the greenside bunker with his second shot. He reached the green in three but two-putted from almost 70 feet for a bogey.

On the monster 622-yard par-5 11th, he hit a 351-yard drive and chipped his third shot to three feet for a birdie to get to even par.

On the 225-yard par-3 13th, Shubhankar's tee shot went 189 yards to the right rough from where he got a drop. His chip went nearly 50 feet, but he rolled well to get to five feet but missed the par putt to go one-over.

He got back on the 575-yard par-5 15th hole, where he reached the green in three and sunk a five-foot putt for a birdie to get back to par.

On the par-4 388-yard finishing hole, Shubhankar had a 154-yard approach shot and he got to inside seven feet for a birdie and a card of 70.

Atwal cards 72

Arjun Atwal, playing his first PGA Tour event this season, shot even par 72 to be placed tied 58th at the end of the first round of the Puerto Rico Open.

Atwal, the only Indian to have won a PGA Tour title back in 2010, had three birdies and three bogeys on Thursday.

Also playing in the field is Swede Daniel Chopra, who shot 75 and is tied 103rd.

On a day which had unpredictable, swirling winds, Argentina's Andres Romero played steady to fire six-under 66 at the Coco Beach Golf Club to set the pace.