Their third meeting figures to be the most interesting.
After a second-round 64 Friday, de Jonge will enter the weekend just one shot behind McIlroy (66) at the Honda Classic. The big Zimbabwean, who sits at 10-under 130, is winless in 186 PGA Tour starts.
“I feel very comfortable,” he said of being in the final pairing with McIlroy. “I’ve been out here long enough now. I’ve played quite a bit with Rory. I know obviously what a great player he is. I feel very comfortable. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
De Jonge and McIlroy were grouped together at the 2010 Memorial and 2013 Barclays. De Jonge outdueled the young star, 65-68, at Jack’s Place, while Rory got the upper hand, 71-72, in the playoff event.
De Jonge entered this week with neither a strong record at this event nor encouraging current form. He had just one top 25 in six previous appearances here, and he has just one top 10 on the PGA Tour since last April. He has missed two of his last three cuts.
When asked whether he feels like he’s on the cusp of victory after being on Tour since 2007, de Jonge wasn’t ready to start looking ahead.
“Obviously it’s something I’m starting to think about a little bit more and more, he said, “but it’s still very early.”