McIlroy keeps his nose in front

US Tour

Rory McIlroy carded a four-under-par 66 to lead the Honda Classic by one shot after the second round of the PGA Tour event.

The former world number one recovered well from two bogeys early in his round and responded by carding six birdies in a 10-hole stretch, to finish on 11-under par, a single shot in front of Brendon de Jonge.

This week is also the first time that McIlroy has led a PGA event after 36 holes in more than 18 months.

“I knew that with the way I’m playing and the confidence in my ability, I would be able to get those shots back,” McIlroy said after his round.

“I didn’t panic. I didn’t try to do anything different. Just tried to keep playing the way I was.

“This year is obviously a lot different.

“Got off to a good start. I’m confident. I’m playing well. This is the second straight tournament I’ve opened with a 63, so if I can keep building on these good starts, then hopefully I can start converting.”

While McIlroy is slowly starting to show the form that saw his claim the top spot in the world rankings two years ago, current world number one isn’t having the best of time at Palm Beach Gardens’ Champion Course.

After a first round 71, Woods carded a 69 to reach the halfway stage on even par to just about make the cut, but because 79 players will start the third round, another top-70 cut will take place before the final round.

Woods hit the green in only two of his last nine holes and a chip-in on the 13th was his only birdie of the back nine.

“It was a grind, there’s no doubt about it,” Woods admitted.

“I didn’t hit it very good. Just one of those days where I fought out a number, which was good.”

Woods, though, did better than some other highly rated players this week.

Playing in the Honda Classic for the first time in more than a decade, Phil Mickelson missed the cut after a second round 71, while last year’s player of the year and current world number three Henrik Stenson was also sent packing after rounds of 73 and 76.

De Jonge has never won on the PGA Tour and narrowly missed out on a share of the lead when he missed the green with a wedge on the ninth and was forced to bogey. Nevertheless, he carded eight birdies in his round of 64.

“I think I might have got a little bit of switch in the wind,” de Jonge said.

Two shots behind the Zimbabwean on eight under after a round of 68 was Russell Henley.

Russell Knox’s 63 was the lowest round of the day and the Scot finished another stroke further behind in a tie for fourth place with Lee Westwood (65).

Three players – Jamie Donaldson (69), Ryan Palmer (66) and William McGirt (66) – are in a tie for sixth place on six-under.

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