Golf is starting to feel easy again for Rory McIlroy, who bounced back from a sloppy start Friday in the Honda Classic for a 4-under 66 that gave him his first 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour in 18 months.
Tiger Woods is making it look hard.
McIlroy recovered from two early bogeys by running off six birdies in a 10-hole stretch in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for a one-shot lead over Brendon de Jonge (64).
"I knew that with the way I'm playing and the confidence in my ability, I would be able to get those shots back," said McIlroy, who was at 11-under 129. "I didn't panic. I didn't try to do anything different. Just tried to keep playing the way I was."
Woods felt fortunate to still be playing at PGA National. He was over the cut line after scrambling for a bogey on the 11th hole and wound up with a 69 to make the cut on the number at even-par 140. Woods hit only two greens over his last nine holes. His lone birdie on the back nine was a chip-in on 13 after he missed the green with a wedge.
"It was a grind, there's no doubt about it," Woods said. "I didn't hit it very good. Just one of those days where I fought out a number, which was good."
Because 79 players made the cut, there will be another cut to top 70 and ties Saturday. Woods missed the 54-hole cut the last time he played on tour at Torrey Pines.
And at least he's still playing the weekend. That wasn't the case for Phil Mickelson. Playing the Honda Classic for the first time in 12 years, he had a 71 to miss the cut by one shot.
A year ago, McIlroy took a steep fall from No. 1 in the world while changing equipment and trying to live up to high expectations, leading to his snap decision to walk off PGA National after 26 holes.
A growing gallery in warm sunshine Friday saw a familiar game -- the McIlroy who won the Honda two years ago.
Swinging freely and putting beautifully, McIlroy hit his stride on his back nine with four birdies in five holes, including the par-5 third when he smashed a drive and had only a 6-iron into the green on the 539-yard hole.
"This year is obviously a lot different," he said. "Got off to a good start. I'm confident. I'm playing well."
McIlroy has taken only 49 putts through two rounds.
"That's probably the lowest putting total after 36 I've probably had, maybe in my career," he said. "So it's obviously going in the right direction."
Russell Henley had a 68 and was three shots behind. Russell Knox had the low round Friday at 63 and was four shots back along with Lee Westwood (65).
LPGA: Karrie Webb recovered from two bogeys on the back nine to card a 3-under 69 and hold a two-shot lead over Angela Stanford (69) at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. Webb was at 9-under 135.
Teresa Lu (70) was third at 6 under. Caroline Hedwall had a share of the lead with Webb on the back nine before two bogeys and a double bogey on her final three holes. She fell to fourth at 4 under along with Pleasanton native Paula Creamer (73), Morgan Pressel (69) and Danielle Kang (70).