Rory McIroy will tee it up on Sunday afternoon at The Honda Classic with a two-shot lead over 2013 Sony Open Champ, Russell Henley. From the start on Thursday, this tournament seemed to belong to the youngster from Northern Ireland. McIlroy opened with a -7 under par 63 and has never looked back, and very well could win his first tournament on the PGA Tour since the BMW Championship during the 2012 Fed Ex Cup playoff’s.
The conditions at PGA National toughened on Saturday, and scores reflected the wind that started to blow before the leaders took the first tee. Although McIlroy struggled to a 0ne under par 69 on “Moving Day” others put up some nice numbers in the afternoon conditions. Stuart Appleby, and Matt Every carded 65’s and are within striking distance. They will begin the day five strokes back at -7 under par.
“It was one of the best up-and-downs I’ve ever had, I guess,” McIlroy said. “And it was almost like a momentum builder. I just bogeyed the last, but walking off that seventh green with a bogey almost felt like I had saved par or I had almost gained a shot on the field. It kept any momentum that I had going to the next few holes.”
Appleby and Every are tied at -7 under par with some players who have enough pedigree and could bridge that five stroke gap if McIlroy stumbles out of the gate on Sunday. Keegan Bradley, and Luke Donald have a share of the fifth place tie. Keegan looks to be playing pretty well, and has the distance to compete, but I don’t see Luke Donald making up five strokes on Sunday. He is an excellent putter, so who knows what can happen if he gets hot on the greens.
The one that everyone will have their eyes on is two more back at -5 under par. That’s where the threat could come from if Tiger Woods gets off to a good start. If the world’s number can find some greens on the front nine, and put a couple of early birdies on the field, he can change the entire complexion of this tournament. I’m sure Rory, and his Sunday playing partner, Russell Henley will be listening for the roars.
The Bear Trap will definitely play a part in determining who wins the Honda Classic, but the mine field, in my opinion, is the 6th and 7th hole on the front along with 10 and 11 on the back nine. Rory has made four of his five bogeys this week on those four holes. He is three under par in the Bear Trap this week, and is two under on the 18th hole. His challenge will be getting TO The Bear Trap with a share of the lead.
A secondary cut was made after Saturday’s action. Of the 79 players who took to the course on Saturday, only the top 70 will on Sunday. Nine players were trimmed from the field in a move that has become prominent in the new season where too many players survive the 36-hole cut.
Among those who will not tee it up on Sunday is the 1998 Honda Classic Champ, Mark Calcavecchia, Davis Love III, and Y.E. Yang.
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+