Tiger Woods leads Graeme McDowell by two shots entering the weekend at the Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami.
MIAMI — Tiger Woods struggled on the practice range, and he didn’t feel much better two holes into his second round Friday at the Cadillac Championship. He would not have guessed this would be the day to set a personal record for birdies, much less wind up with a two-shot lead in the World Golf Championships event.
“All I need is one shot,” Woods said. “And as soon as I feel it on one, I can pretty much carry through. And I did that today.”
It was a 4-iron on the par-3 fourth hole at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
Woods hit a shot with a slight fade at the left edge of the green and heard the crowd cheer as the slope and the grain took the ball to about 4 feet from the cup to set up a birdie.
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And just like that, he was on his way.
Woods ran off six birdies in an eight-hole stretch around the turn in a clean, crisp exhibition. That sent him to a 7-under-par 65 and a two-stroke lead over 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.
The 37-year-old Woods has made 17 birdies in two rounds, his most in that span on the PGA Tour, though that wasn’t the most important number for him.
“It left me a two-shot lead,” Woods said.
He was at 13-under 131, his lowest 36-hole score on Tour since the 2009 AT&T National.
McDowell shot a 67.
Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker had 67s and were tied for third place at 10 under.
Woods, a three-time winner at Doral, got a helpful putting-posture tip from Stricker on Wednesday.
“We all know when he gets out in front, he’s tough to catch and tough to beat,” Stricker said of Woods, who has a 35-10 record when he has at least a share of the 36-hole lead. “Looks like he’s playing well. Looks like all parts of his game are working.”
“I’m playing well, and I made a bunch of putts,” he said. “But more importantly, I left myself in the right spots to make putts and I think that’s probably the biggest key. I left myself where I didn’t have that many downwind, downhill, down-grain putts.”
Ryan Moore (71) of Puyallup was tied for 44th at even par.
Top-ranked Rory McIlroy (69), who has been in the spotlight more than usual after walking off the course during the second round of the Honda Classic last week, was tied for 32nd at 2 under.
“It’s nice to shoot something in the 60s and definitely build on over the next couple of days,” said McIlroy, who has struggled this season.
Mickelson is coming off a two-week break from tournament play, though he made a trip to Augusta National — the Georgia course that hosts the Masters, which begins April 11.
“There’s something very spiritual about playing Augusta if you love the game as much as I do, and going there gets me fired up,” three-time Masters champion Mickelson said.
Mickelson hit a 9-iron shot that stopped inches from dropping for a hole-in-one on the par-3 ninth hole.
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Andres Romero of Argentina shot his second straight 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.
Romero birdied six of the last 10 holes at Trump International.
Scott Brown (63) was in second place. He holed a shot from 170 yards for an eagle on the par-4 seventh hole.
Jeff Gove (65) of Seattle was tied for 31st place at 6 under and ex-Washington Husky Troy Kelly (70) was tied for 42nd at 5 under.
Golfers with 36-hole scores worse than 141 missed the cut, a group that included Andres Gonzales (76-67 — 143) of Olympia.