Adam Scott continued his hot play while Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson made big moves up the leaderboard on the second day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.
Scott, who won the Honda Classic at PGA National on Sunday, followed his opening 68 with a six-under-par 66 Friday on the Blue Monster to get to 10-under 134 and take a two-shot lead over McIlroy and Johnson.
“Hopefully I’m in a similar position this Sunday and I can draw off the experience of just seven days ago,” said Scott, who beat Sergio Garcia by a shot in their final-round duel at the Honda.
“But you know, this is another week. I can’t sit here and dwell about winning and I think yesterday, maybe I did that. As I teed off I was still just floating around and a couple of bogeys came quick. Around a course like this, you have to be quite focused, otherwise mistakes will happen.”
Scott was sharp Friday, making birdies at the first two holes. He bogeyed No. 3, but birdied Nos. 6 and 7, and had four more birdies and a bogey on the back.
“It’s just the start you want in a World Golf Championship,” the Australian said. “But look at the leaderboard. I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing weekend out here. I hope I can keep my game at this high level for two more days.”
England’s Danny Willett was alone in fourth at seven-under 137 on rounds of 68-69. Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson were tied for fifth at 138.
Phil Mickelson, who started the day in third place after a 67 on Thursday, led the tournament after four consecutive birdies on the front nine got him to nine under. But he came in with two bogeys and a double bogey to shoot 72 and end up tied for seventh at 139 with Paul Casey, who shot 71-68.
First-round co-leaders Marcus Fraser and Scott Piercy followed their opening 66s with 77s and were nine behind Scott.
As good as McIlroy’s putting was, he was more pleased with his smart play. He got to three under Thursday before ending his round with a double bogey on the par-three ninth hole after hitting his tee shot in the water.
“I just needed to play a round without as many mistakes,” said McIlroy, who outplayed partners Jordan Spieth (69-72) and Jason Day (72-74). “I’ve been making birdies. That’s not been the problem. It’s eliminating these mistakes that I’ve been making and to play a round with only one bogey was nice. I’m probably more happy about that than the eight birdies I made, to be honest with you, because the last few rounds, it’s just been great shots mixed with poor shots.”
After opening with a birdie and a bogey, McIlroy said sinking a seven-foot par putt after hitting into a greenside bunker at the par-three fourth really got his round going in a positive direction. He birdied the next four holes and added three birdies on the back, including on the difficult 18th, where he sank a 20-foot putt.
“It was a great putt to finish with,” McIlroy said, “and obviously gives me a lot of confidence going into the weekend.”
Johnson, who said he struggled Thursday, joked that at the very least, he knew Friday “wasn’t going to be as bad as yesterday.” But eight shots better?
“I drove it better and hit my irons better today,” Johnson said. “Yesterday I wasn’t hitting it in the fairway and I wasn’t hitting my irons very good, but fortunately my short game was spectacular. It was an impressive even par.”
Johnson said that work he did on the driving range paid off.
“I felt like I figured it out and I had a lot of confidence coming in,” he said. “I just played well in L.A. I felt like I’ve been swinging the club very well. Today showed it. I’m definitely hitting it a lot better than I did the day before.
“To go out today and turn it around just feels good. I’m right back in the golf tournament.”