Miami – Former runner-up Dustin Johnson fired a two-over 74 to grab a share of the lead at a gusty WGC-Cadillac Championship on Friday, while Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy kept pace with a 74.
Defending champion Tiger Woods carded a 73 in difficult conditions, and despite the over-par round jumped 28 places into a share of 25th at the $9 million PGA Tour event. Woods won this title for the seventh time last year.
“I played pretty well. A 74 is about as high as it was going to go. I think I played a lot better than that,” said Johnson, who finished second in this event in 2011. “It's really tough.”
Johnson is tied atop a crowded leaderboard after 36 holes with American compatriots Patrick Reed (75), Matt Kuchar (74) and Hunter Mahan (74) at one-under 143.
It is not quite the Ryder Cup, but McIlroy is lurking just one stroke back in another four-man group that comprises fellow Europeans Jamie Donaldson, Graeme McDowell (71) and Francesco Molinari (75).
The Europeans share fifth place as Donaldson, of Wales, tallied the low round of the day on the weather-hit Trump National Doral with a two-under 70.
“I don't think I have played in conditions this difficult in America,” said McDowell of the swirling winds on the Blue Monster course.
No one shot in the 60s and just three golfers broke par in the second round. The average score Friday was a 76.
Woods drained a 91-foot, seven-inch putt on the par-three fourth, giving him his longest putt since 2001. It was also the longest putt on the Tour in five years.
“We've all got a shot at it now,” Woods said. “No one is going anywhere.”
Zach Johnson (75) and Bubba Watson (72) share ninth place at one-over 145, one stroke clear of Jason Dufner (77), South African Charl Schwartzel (76), Brandt Snedeker (73), Chris Kirk (71), Harris English (77) and South Korea's Kim Hyung-Sung (74).
The first and second rounds were both completed on Friday. The first round was suspended because of darkness following a long weather delay Thursday.
Both rounds saw scores soar Friday as the wind gusted to over 32 kilometers (20 miles) per hour.
“It was a demanding day. It was really kind of touch and go, particularly on the greens. It felt like the ball could roll at any moment,” said Kuchar. “It was nasty.”
The second round alone saw over 100 golf balls land in the water.
Reed, 23, led after the first round but he tumbled out of first with consecutive bogeys at 13 and 14.
“Anytime you're playing on the PGA Tour, especially a World Golf Championship, it's fun and you can enjoy it,” Reed said.
“To be out here grinding, yeah it's tough, but at the same time, it's only going to make you tougher.” – Sapa-AFP