McIlroy maintains Honda Classic lead
Palm Beach Gardens, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Rory McIlroy carded a 4-under 66 on Friday to maintain his 1-stroke lead at the Honda Classic.
The 2012 Honda Classic champion and former World No. 1 finished 36 holes on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa at 11-under-par 129. He is seeking his seventh career win on the PGA Tour.
"I'm playing well and I'm comfortable. It's just another 36-hole lead," said McIlroy. "It's probably been since maybe September 2012 since I've felt as comfortable as this."
Brendon de Jonge fired a 6-under 64 to jump into second place at 10-under 130, while Russell Henley (68) is alone in third at minus-8.
Lee Westwood (65) and Russell Knox (63) shared fourth at 7-under, a shot ahead of Jamie Donaldson (69), Ryan Palmer (66) and William McGirt (69).
Tiger Woods countered a pair of bogeys with three birdies during a 1-under 69 to make the cut right on the number at even-par 140. Among those to miss the cut were major winners Phil Mickelson and Angel Cabrera, and defending FedExCup champion Henrik Stenson.
"I fought out a number, which is always a good thing," Woods said. "Short game was spotty and now it's good again, so now just need my ball striking to come around."
McIlroy entered the second round with a 1-stroke lead, but he quickly gave that advantage away with back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th, dropping him to 5-under.
After parring the next three holes, McIlroy got those two strokes back with a 6-foot birdie putt at the 16th and a 12-foot birdie effort at the 18th.
The Ulsterman later stuck his third shot at the par-5 third to within a foot and kicked that in for a birdie. He would continue to make it three gains in a row with another short birdie at the fourth before rolling in a 29-foot putt at the fifth, moving him to 10-under and four strokes clear of the field.
McIlroy converted another lengthy birdie putt from 27 feet at the seventh to reach 11-under and parred his final two holes to finish there.
"I can see 63, 64 or 65 out there. Maybe some guys can't, but once you get on a roll, it's not like it's the longest course in the world," McIlroy said about PGA National. "You just have to position your way around and you've still got quite a bit of wedges in your hand, but if you're comfortable with that and you get yourself on the fairway, there's plenty of opportunities to make birdies."
De Jonge also teed off from the 10th in the afternoon wave and quickly raced up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first five holes to pull within three of McIlroy at 8-under. That streak included a 28-foot putt at the 11th, while the rest of the birdies came from inside 10 feet.
The Zimbabwe native later birdied the 18th from seven feet to make the turn at 9-under.
Birdie putts of eight and 12 feet at the third and fifth, respectively, gave him a share of the lead, but he found a bunker with his drive at the sixth en route to a bogey to drop him back to 10-under.
He again met McIlroy atop the leaderboard with a lengthy birdie putt at the eighth, but he followed that with another bogey at the ninth to finish a shot off the pace.
Earlier, Henley traded a bogey at the second with a birdie at the third during an outward 35 to make the turn at 6-under.
He would counter a 12-foot birdie putt at the 13th with a 2-putt bogey at the 14th to remain there before posting birdies at the 16th and 18th to end three shots behind McIlroy.
NOTES: McIlroy has posted a career low 49 putts through two rounds. His previous low thru 36 holes was 50 at the 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship ... McIlroy has converted two of his four career 36-hole leads into victories ... The last second-round leader/co-leader to convert their lead into a win at The Honda Classic was Camilo Villegas in 2010 ... De Jonge is seeking his first career win on the PGA Tour ... Hideki Matsuyama withdrew prior to the second round with a wrist injury ... With 79 players advancing to the weekend, a 54- hole cut will be in effect following the third round to reduce the field to the low 70 players and ties.
02/28 19:22:01 ET