KAPALUA – Gary Woodland fired his second straight six-under-par 67 to grab a three-shot lead halfway through the Tournament of Champions, as Rory McIlroy starts to make some noise in his Kapalua debut.
Woodland, who is seeking his fourth win on the PGA Tour, used a streak of five consecutive birdies, beginning at No 11, to reach 12-under 134.
World No 8 McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and first-round leader Kevin Tway are tied for second at nine-under.
“I have a little different mindset this week, playing a little more aggressive, trying to contend, and trying to win instead of just enjoying the views out here, which I’ve done in the past,” said Woodland.
McIlroy, who shot 68, isn’t the only former major winner still in the hunt, as American Justin Thomas is tied for sixth after posting a one-under 72.
Long-hitting rookie Cameron Champ (68) and Xander Schauffele (67) are keeping Thomas company at seven-under, five shots adrift of Woodland.
“I stayed patient,” McIlroy said. “The front nine’s the tough nine on this golf course, and I had a couple opportunities, but I just thought if I could get through that first nine-under-par, I would have a few chances on the back nine.
“And thankfully. I was able to take advantage.”
Woodland, 34, went on a roll last summer finishing in the top 12 in six-out-of-seven worldwide starts.
However, the big knock on the American is his inability to play with the lead as he has failed to convert each of his previous four 36-hole leads into victories. His last win came at the 2018 Phoenix Open.
McIlroy has impressed in his debut as he hopes to become the first player since Daniel Chopra in 2008 to win in the tournament in his first start.
“It’s been a nice start to the year,” he said. “The first two competitive rounds of year, nine-under-par, only two bogeys, it’s been nice. It is something to build on going into the weekend.”
The 29-year-old made a birdie on four of his final seven holes in the second round to improve by a stroke over his Thursday score.
The same could not be said for Dustin Johnson, who was slapped with a two-stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball and finished with a one-over 74.
Johnson took the penalty on the fourth hole, and went on to make double bogey.
“I could see the logo on the side and so obviously I just assumed it was mine. That won’t ever happen again, I promise you that,” said Johnson, who is tied for 12th.