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McIlroy Continues to Set Pace in Honda Classic


Rory McIlroy will be going for a wire-to-wire win in the $6 million Honda Classic. The 24-year-old Northern Irishman carded a 1-under 70 Saturday for a 54-hole total of 12-under 198.

McIlroy opened with rounds of 63 and 66 in the tournament, the first stop on PGA Tour's "Florida Swing," at the Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The young Ulsterman won the event two years ago, a triumph that propelled his 2012 season to three more victories and the money-list titles on both the PGA and European tours. If he's atop the leaderboard at the end of Sunday, McIlroy will nail down his first victory in the States since the BMW Championship in September 2012.

McIlroy said the windy conditions Saturday made club selection hard to figure out. "It was definitely more difficult for sure, the wind was coming from a different direction," he said at greenside.

"I still have 18 holes to go, but I'm feeling comfortable for where my game is . . . If you can limit your bogeys - hit fairways and greens - you really have a chance out here."

McIlroy is enjoying playing at PGA National, which is near his home in Florida. "It's just very comfortable here. It's nice to sleep in your own bed every night."

Hanging close to McIlroy is another 24-year-old, Russell Henley, who carded a 2-under 68. The Georgian had the shot of the day when he holed out a 150-yard pitching wedge on the par-4 14th hole for an eagle. The 2013 Sony Open champion will be paired with McIlroy in the final group.

Three back of the leader is Scotland's Russell Knox, who also shot 68, while four back is Jhonattan Vegas. The Venezuelan was sailing along with seven birdies and two bogeys before he bogeyed the par-5 18th for his second straight 66.

Five shots back are Stuart Appleby (65), Keegan Bradley (66), Luke Donald (68) and Ryan Palmer (69). Eight players share ninth at 6-under 204, while another seven are at 5-under.

Among those in the latter group is Tiger Woods, who rebounded from rounds of 71 and 69 to make the 36-hole cut of even-par 140 right on the number with a 5-under 65.

The No. 1-ranked player in the world fired seven birdies and a pair of bogeys to get into contention. "I felt a lot better," Woods said of his best round of the year after only three starts. "Struck it well today and made some putts. Felt like I had a good feel."

Woods certainly feels like he's not out it in the 2014 Honda Classic. "Five (under) is all right. Five is still in the ballgame."

For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.