Date: March 01, 2014
Author: Luke Sheehan and Christopher Devine, Omnisport

McIlroy stays in front at Honda Classic

Rory McIlroy remained on course to exorcise his demons at the Honda Classic by preserving his lead on Friday.

McIlroy won at Palm Beach Gardens in 2012 to move to the top of the world rankings, but infamously walked off the course last year midway through the second round of his title defence. Things are going more smoothly for McIlroy this time around and the Northern Irishman maintained his one-shot buffer at the summit by reaching 11 under with a second-round four-under 66. Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge is a shot behind McIlroy in second after a six-under 64, while Russell Henley, who shot a two-under 68, is third on eight under. McIlroy made a sloppy start after starting on the back nine, bogeying his second and third holes. However, birdies at 16 and 18 followed before the 24-year-old picked up four further shots to secure top spot heading into the weekend. England's Lee Westwood is tied for fourth with Scotsman Russell Knox on seven under overall, with Westwood going five under on Friday while Knox shot an equal-day low seven-under 63. Jamie Donaldson, of Wales, preserved his standing in the top 10, carding a one-under 69 to be tied for sixth alongside Americans Ryan Palmer (four under) and William McGirt (one under) on six under overall. A group of nine round out the top 10 in a tie for ninth, with John Senden, Thomas Bjorn and Luke Donald joining Americans Daniel Summerhays, Chris Stroud, Boo Weekley , Derek Ernst, Will MacKenzie and Brendan Steele on five under. Of that pack, Australian Senden was the best performed – matching Knox's seven-under 63. The big names are further down the leaderboard, with Adam Scott the closest poised to threaten on the weekend at three under in a tie for 23rd. Scott, the Masters champion, shot a one-under 69 in his second round. Zach Johnson is also at three under after an even-par 70, while world number one Tiger Woods made the cut by the barest of margins, heading into the weekend at even par alongside Spain's Sergio Garcia. Sweden's Henrik Stenson was not as fortunate, though, as he carded a six-over 76 to finish at nine over and tied for 135th.