Allenby Joins Wi in Top Spot at Honda

By Associated PressMarch 2, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Robert Allenby finished his round around lunchtime, and left PGA National thinking he'd be within two of three shots of the lead by day's end.
He ultimately was wrong, and probably thrilled.
Allenby shot a 2-under 68 Friday, getting him to 5 under after two rounds of the Honda Classic and into a tie atop the leaderboard with first-round leader Charlie Wi -- who shot a wild round of even-par 70.
Charlie Wi
Charlie Wi shares the 36-hole lead with Aussie Robert Allenby. (WireImages)
Allenby is winless in his last 139 PGA TOUR events, yet came here this week insisting that it's only a matter of time before that streak ends -- and his play is backing up that assertion.
'I think 5 under is a pretty good score after two days,' the Australian said. 'This golf course is only going to get tougher from this moment on.'
It's plenty tough already.
While the wind was down a bit from Thursday, the breezes did pick up a bit as the second round went along -- and par remained a very solid score. The cut was 4-over and only 30 broke par, with 71.9 being the average score for the round.
Will MacKenzie and Steve Stricker were tied or third at 3 under after 69s, and Daniel Copra, Joe Ogilvie, Mathias Gronberg, Camilo Villegas and Mark Wilson were another shot back. Wilson and Gronberg shot 66s, the best round of the day.
'These pin positions aren't as tough as they would be at a major, but tee-to-green, it's set up like a U.S. PGA,' said 2005 winner Padraig Harrington, who was among a group another shot back at 1 under.
Fortunately for Allenby, his game is in good-enough shape to handle the demands of PGA National.
He put together four consecutive top-10s earlier this season, leads the tour in birdies per round and ranks second in scoring average.
'At the start of the week, I thought 10 under, 11 under would probably win this tournament,' Allenby said. 'I'm 5 under at the moment. I can definitely shoot 5 under on the weekend, even if it blows like this, if I'm on my game and if I can play the way I know I can play.'
His round was relatively problem-free.
Wi could hardly say the same.
He fell out of the lead by making triple bogey on No. 11, his second hole, after balls found hazards and bunkers with such regularity that he actually thought he made an 8 instead of a 7.
'Got a stroke back there,' Wi said.
A run of three straight birdies -- starting with a chip-in from just off the green at 12 -- immediately undid the damage caused by the triple, but by round's end, it almost seemed as if Wi was alternating birdies and bogeys. He made back-to-back birdies to pass Allenby with two holes left, but dropped another shot on the par-4 ninth, his last of the day.
In all, he had eight pars, six birdies, three bogeys and one triple-bogey -- not to mention six consecutive 3's at one point.
'The way I hung in there today, I'm really happy,' Wi said. 'But I'm really disappointed in the middle of the round, where I kind of lost focus out there. I think I probably could have done a little better. But to shoot 70 after the way I started, I'm really pleased.'
Defending champion Luke Donald made the cut -- barely.
Donald was 7 over after 14 holes, but made three consecutive birdies to rally and avoid what would have been his third consecutive missed cut in a stroke-play event. He shot a 67, 10 shots better than what he managed Thursday.
Bernhard Langer, though, went in the opposite direction, adding nine strokes to his Thursday score.
Langer started the day one shot behind Wi, and took the outright lead with two birdies in his first four holes. But he was 6 over on the back nine and wound up shooting a 75, falling to 1 over for the tournament into a tie for 25th.
'Today I started off just like yesterday. I was hitting the ball fairly good and made some good putts early on,' Langer said. 'And then the last seven holes or so, I made nothing, basically. Left putts short, drove it into the rough, missed fairways, missed greens ... that's a bad combination.'
Only four players -- Bubba Dickerson, Nick O'Hern, Kevin Stadler and Bo Van Pelt -- birdied the 11th in each of the first two rounds. ... The par-4 10th hole, which measures 525 yards on the card, had some players, including Langer, opting to lay up with hopes of one-putting. 'I couldn't get there with a 3-wood,' said Langer, who bogeyed it for the second straight day. ... Pat Perez was one of four players to make triple-bogey at the 11th. He wound up missing the cut by one shot.
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