Rory, de Jonge setting pace at PGA National

Weekend Preview – PGA Tour – Honda Classic – PGA National – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida –

Rory McIlroy leads The Honda Classic at 11-under through two rounds and appears to be playing on cruise control at PGA National.

He followed his opening-round 63 with a 66 and holds a one-shot advantage over Brendon de Jonge and three up on Russell Henley, the 2012 Sony Open champion.

McIlroy, No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking, won this title in 2012. After a sluggish 2013 – 41st on the PGA Tour Money List and 35th in the Race To Dubai standings – McIlroy broke through with a comeback victory late in the year on the Australasia Tour edging Adam Scott by a shot to capture the Emirates Australian Open.

For de Jonge, he is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory. A runner-up x times, he has led the PGA Tour in birdies over the last four seasons. He was 42nd on the money list a season ago making 25 of 30 cuts and finishing 10th in Greens In Regulation Percentage and 15th in the All Around Ranking.

Look for Rory to feel a little heat in the final pairing Saturday at PGA National. Leading the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic through 36 holes last month, he failed to close the deal getting bypassed during the third round and eventually ended up T-9.

McIlroy was the betting favorite coming into the Florida Swing at 8-to-1 odds, according to De Jonge was a 125-1 pick, while Henley was 150-1. De Jonge shot 64 in round two to close the gap on Rory.

Saturday could be an opportunity for England’s Lee Westwood to make a move. Now a Florida resident, Westwood is 7-under and four back. The former World No. 1 hasn’t won a title since 2012 and now ranks 35th in the world.

Tiger woods, who barely made the weekend cut, is making a Saturday move already at PGA National. Creeping into the Top 10, he has reached 5-under overall including four birdies in five holes on his back nine.

Woods is 5-under through 17 holes moving up some 58 places already.

The leaders tee off at 1:35 p.m. local time. Both Rory and de Jonge are always in position. It will come down to who can keep rolling a hot putter, while fending on a host of chasers including Graeme McDowell and Scott.

Other Golf News:

  • Karrie Webb (11-under) leads the LPGA Tour’s HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. Angela Stanford is a shot back with 18 holes to play.
  • Ross Fisher (18-under) has a five-shot advantage through 54 holes at the European Tour’s Tshwane Open in South Africa.
  • De Jonge ranks 70th in the world. He competed in his first Presidents Cup in 2013.
  • Luke Donald, who won The Honda Classic in 2006, is inside the Top 10 heading into the weekend. The former World No. 1, who was bounced in round one of Match Play last week, is now 24th in the world ranking.