Updated: Saturday, 08 Mar 2014 14:17 | Comments
Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy go into the weekend one stroke off the lead on level par at the WGC-Cadillac Championship after a tough second round in which the re-designed Blue Monster course claimed some notable scalps in Doral.
Strong winds blew the scoring of nearly every player into the red – including world top two, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott – and McDowell’s one-under 71 enough to lift him a shot off the lead.
McDowell trailed a quartet of Americans, who shared the lead on one under, and were the only players to reach halfway with a minus score.
First-round leader Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan will head into the weekend at the top of the leaderboard.
McDowell was level with the card, and four other players, including Rory McIlroy and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, as the former US Open champion showed almost peerless control in the tricky conditions.
McDowell steadily combined two birdies with just a single bogey as Donaldson – who shot a round-best 70 – and American Chris Kirk were the only others to pick up shots during the round.
Former world number one McIlroy was level with McDowell on the leaderboard after he fought back after initially appearing like he might go the same way as his higher-profile rivals.
The 24-year-old, who lost a play-off at the Honda Classic last weekend, went out in 40, but recovered after the turn with three birdies to signed for a two-over 74.
Limiting the damage was the primary concern for every player as the new-look Miami course bared its teeth.
Remarkably more than 100 balls found the water during the second round with Woods and Scott the most significant casualties.
Both resumed their weather-delayed first rounds in the morning, and both made nightmare starts.
Scott dropped six shots in his first five holes – including a pair of double bogeys – while Woods leaked four shots in as many holes.
Things hardly improved when they began their second rounds either, but both battled their way to ensure they just asurvived the cut.
Scott’s 73 left him on four over, while Woods is a stroke further back after he went around in the same score.
Defending champion Woods was able to offer one highlight in an otherwise dour round, as he sunk a monster 91-foot putt for birdie – the longest on the PGA Tour for five years – at the par-three fourth.
Phil Mickelson, another winner at this course before the changes, also had to grit his teeth to make the weekend after a hat-trick of double bogeys at the start of his round.
The left-hander immediately fought back with two of his five birdies in a round of 75 that left him five over for the tournament.