PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Luke Guthrie surged to the top of the leaderboard at the Honda Classic with a 7-under 63 Friday, giving him a one-shot lead heading into the weekend. His story is largely overshadowed, though, by another player who failed to even finish his second round – world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. Here's the low-down heading into Saturday's third round at PGA National:
What it means: With the cut falling at even-par 140, everyone still in the field will begin the third round within nine shots of the lead. Considering the crowded leaderboard and difficult golf course facing players, the tournament remains very much up for grabs with several big names just a few shots behind the overnight leader.
Round of the day: A recent graduate of the Web.com Tour, Guthrie played like a savvy veteran Friday, carding seven birdies without dropping a shot. Beginning on the 10th hole, the Illinois grad notched birdies on holes 12, 13 and 15 before adding four more on the second nine, needing only 26 putts to complete his second round.
Best of the rest: Playing in the first group off Friday morning, Michael Thompson fired a 5-under 65 that will earn him a spot in the last group off Saturday afternoon. Thompson carded six birdies against just one bogey, including a stretch of five straight 3s from holes 13-17, and is only one shot off the pace after 36 holes.
Biggest disappointment: McIlroy, by a country mile. The decision by the reigning PGA champion to withdraw in the middle of his round because of wisdom tooth pain – after playing his first eight holes in 7 over – sent shockwaves through the event Friday morning. The defending Honda champion will not be around this weekend, and questions now will only increase as the world No. 1 continues to struggle in 2013.
Main storyline heading into Saturday: Who will emerge from a crowded leaderboard? With several top-ranked players in the mix – and even those who barely made the cut, like Tiger Woods at even par, still within striking distance – making a move in the right direction Saturday will be important for anyone looking to contend.
Shot of the day: Heading to the par-3 seventh hole, Robert Allenby was 3 over and in need of a spark. The Aussie got it when he struck a 5-iron from 193 yards that found the hole for an ace, the only one of the week thus far at PGA National. Allenby made only one birdie the rest of the way, though, and at 2-over 142 will not play the weekend despite the hole-in-one.
Quote of the day: “I'm a great fan of Rory's, but I don't think that was the right thing to do." – Ernie Els, who played with McIlroy during the first two rounds, on the Ulsterman's decision to withdraw after eight holes Friday.
Tags: Honda Classic
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