England's Justin Rose shot another 66 to share the lead at the Honda Classic at Palm Beach, Florida yesterday – but three birdies in his last five holes brought Rory McIlroy right back into the thick of things.
Rose moved alongside self-confessed journeyman Tom Gillis at eight under par on a day when another American, left-hander Brian Harman, shattered the course record by three with a dazzling 61.
McIlroy, who will take over from Luke Donald at the top of the world rankings if he wins tomorrow, is only one behind thanks to the shots he picked up on the 14th, 15th and 18th. Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood are seven back and Woods had to birdie the last two holes for his 68. He was in danger of missing the cut until then.
Rose actually reached 10 under by turning in 31 and adding further birdies on the third and fifth, but bogeyed the next two. He went over the green at the difficult sixth and then failed to get up and down from sand on the seventh. "I've not made that many mistakes," he said. "It's a course that rewards limiting the mistakes. Keeping them off the card really counts."
McIlroy, delighted with his position after entering the closing stretch five adrift, said: "I felt like I played another really solid round. I had a couple of chances on the front nine and didn't take them, but I was just trying to stay as patient as possible."
An early exit from Woods was a distinct possibility when he pulled his tee shot into the water on the short fifth – his 14th – and double-bogeyed. With two to play he was in 71st place and only the top 70 and ties at the end of the second round progress to the closing 36 holes. But on the eighth Woods hit a 138-yard approach to six feet and he followed that with an 11-foot putt on the next.
"It was a little bit of a fight – probably the worst I've hit the ball in months," he said. "I got it going, lost it, got it going, lost it and then got it going. I figured something out with the swing the last four holes. Unfortunately it took me that long."