Woods posted a 5-under 67 in the second round, while Mickelson was one better with a 66. It was one year ago where these two battled in the final round before Woods came out on top at Doral Resort and Spa.
'It won't be anything like Sunday last year,' said Mickelson, referring to his third-round date with Woods. 'It will be more trying to shoot a low round and be in the final group for Sunday.'
But don't forget Verplank. He has posted two runner-up finishes this season and after a second-round, 7-under 65, joined Woods, Villegas and Mickelson at 13-under-par 131.
Villegas, who tied for second place at the FBR Open in Phoenix earlier this season, carded a 66 on Friday. He rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole, his last, to join the logjam at the top.
A pair of former PGA Championship winners are part of a group tied for fifth place. David Toms (66) and Rich Beem (67) are knotted with Mark Wilson (67) at minus-12.
Woods began on the back nine Friday and wasted little time in getting into red figures. He two-putted for birdie from 30 feet, but then parred his next five holes.
At the 16th, Woods drained a 6-footer for birdie, then closed his front nine with a 15-foot birdie putt at the closing hole. He continued his strong play around the turn with short birdie at the par-5 first and another tap-in birdie putt at two.
Woods struggled off the tee with a 3-iron at the par-3 fourth. He landed in a greenside bunker and blasted out to 15 feet. The reigning Masters and British Open champion missed the par putt to fall to 10 under par for the tournament.
Woods atoned for the mistake at four one hole later. He hit a sand wedge to 8 feet and rolled in the birdie putt. The No. 1 player in the world parred out for his share of the lead.
'I feel like I hit the golf ball well today,' said Woods. 'I didn't putt near as well as I did yesterday. I had a bunch of looks at some putts and didn't make very good strokes today.'
Mickelson played the course as designed and birdied the first from 5 feet, then parred the next six. At the par-5 eighth, Mickelson hit a 4-wood to 8 feet and converted the eagle putt.
The reigning PGA Champion took advantage of the next par 5, the 10th, and ran home a short birdie putt. He closed out his round with a birdie at the par-4 16th, when he came up short off the green off the tee, but chipped to 8 feet and sank the birdie putt. Mickelson holed a 4-footer for birdie at 17 to join Woods in the lead.
Verplank was 2 under par after his front nine, but caught fire after the turn. He birdied three in a row from the 10th, then birdied the par-3 15th to get within one of the lead.
Verplank joined his Presidents Cup teammates at the top of the leaderboard when his 5-foot birdie putt at the 17th fell into the cup.
Villegas mixed six birdies and two bogeys through his first 16 holes. At his 17th, the par-5 eighth at Doral, Villegas two-putted for birdie. He converted a 15-footer at the par-3 ninth to grab his share of the lead.
Daniel Chopra shot a 5-under-par 67 and is alone in eighth place at 11-under-par 133.
Zach Johnson, who finished third at last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, fired a 7-under 65 on Friday. He is tied for ninth place with Troy Matteson (64), Dean Wilson (68), Lucas Glover (67) and Chad Campbell (66) at minus-10.
The 36-hole cut fell at 4-under-par 140 and the most notable player to miss the weekend was Jim Furyk. The seventh-ranked player in the world, who won this title in 2000, then lost in playoff here in 2003, shot a 1-under 71 and finished 36 holes at even-par 144.