The Upshot: Honda Classic, Round 2
February 28, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Rory McIlroy's game is trending in the right direction at PGA National. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Two years ago, Rory McIlroy won The Honda Classic to reach No. 1 in the world.
Through two rounds of this year’s tournament, his game appears to be headed in that direction again.
McIlroy shot a 4-under 66 Friday morning to get to 11 under and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at PGA National.
Brendon de Jonge had a chance to gain a share of the top spot with McIlroy late in the day until he failed to get up-and-down for par on his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth.
“I've putted beautifully the first two rounds,” said de Jonge, the beneficiary of a putting tip from good friend Nick Price earlier in the week.
Price helped him square his head at address to give him a better eye line.
McIlroy, meanwhile, was nearly flawless for a second straight day. He bounced back from two early bogeys with six birdies over his final 12 holes, including a couple from long distance.
A year after walking off the course in frustration in the middle of his second round here, McIlroy looked in complete control of all parts of his game -- especially his putter. He took just 24 putts and through the first two rounds has 49 in all.
“When you're not quite in control of your swing, your confidence can sort of go in peaks and troughs,” McIlroy said. “When you hit a few good shots, your confidence can go up quite quickly but then you hit one bad one, it can sort of go down again and that's where I was sort of most of last year.
“Now I feel I'm happy with where my swing is, and even if I do hit a loose shot, I can get over it much quicker and much easier because I have the confidence in what I'm doing.”
Russell Henley is alone in third three shots off the lead, while Lee Westwood and Russell Knox are tied for fourth.
Looking good @McIlroyRory all in black today. Nice round too. All my best over the weekend. Regards— Gary Player (@garyplayer) February 28, 2014
TIGER MAKES CUT, PHIL MISSES: Tiger Woods needed every one of his three birdies -- which included a chip-in on the par-4 13th just to make it to the weekend at The Honda Classic.
Tiger Woods news conference after Round 2 of The Honda Classic
He shot a 1-under 69 and made the cut on the number at even par.
"I would like to obviously hit it better than I have been, and especially (Friday)," admitted Woods, who hit just nine greens. "I didn't hit it very good today."
Even when he did find the putting surface, Woods didn't give himself much of a chance. He had just one approach shot inside 20 feet all day.
Two years ago, Woods entered the third round nine shots off the lead before nearly catching McIlroy with a 62 on the final day. This time, he’s 11 back.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, won’t even be around for third round. He shot 71 to miss the cut by a stroke in what was his first appearance at PGA National as a professional and his first time playing The Honda Classic in more than a decade.
"I had a hard time making birdies today," Mickelson said. "I don't know what it was."
Other notables on the wrong side of the number included Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington, defending champion Michael Thompson, Charl Schwartzel and reigning FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson, who finished just five spots out of last.
Harrington’s missed cut was particularly painful. Needing par on his last hole of the day -- the par-4 ninth -- he drove it in the pine straw then called a penalty on himself when his ball moved. He went on to double bogey the hole and missed the cut by two.
CALL OF THE DAY: Fred Albers from PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM calls Rory McIlroy's 27-foot birdie putt at No. 7 on his way to a second round 66 and one shot lead at PGA National.
Live play-by-play coverage of the third round streams from 12-6 p.m. ET on PGATOUR.COM.
FAMILIAR CONTENDER: Lee Westwood has three top-10 finishes in four trips to The Honda Classic.
Friday, he shot 65 to put himself in contention again.
"I really enjoy playing this golf course," said Westwood, who also calls this area home after moving here last year. "It's a demanding test. There's a lot of holes out there where there are no bail-out. You've got to stand up there and hit your shot."