Play was stopped for darkness on Friday as the tournament is still playing catch up after Thursday's weather mess. Only three hours of golf was played on Thursday so everyone completed their opening rounds on Friday.
Since so many players have failed to even tee off in the second round, the 36- hole cut will not be made until Saturday afternoon. Those who make the cut will be put into threesomes and sent off both the first and 10th tees in the final two rounds.
The third round will be completed Sunday morning, immediately followed by the final round. There should be no further weather complications as the forecast is good.
Howell and Ames both posted rounds of 4-under 68 in the second round to get into the clubhouse at 5-under-par 139. Ogilvie, who held the first-round lead, is 1 under on his round through three holes.
Vijay Singh, who can reclaim the No. 1 ranking in the world this week, eagled the par-4 eighth hole, his 17th of the second round, en route to a 4-under 68. He is tied for fourth place at minus-4 with Graeme McDowell, who has yet to hit a shot in the second round.
Tiger Woods, the current top-ranked player, and Ernie Els, who won back-to-back weeks on the European Tour, are part of a group tied for 17th place at 1-under-par 71. The two, who are joined by reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen in this all-star threesome, can also leave the week with the No. 1 ranking.
Woods must finish outside the top two and Singh must finish no lower than tied fourth with one player. Els, who was No. 1 in the world for nine weeks, has a tougher road to the top of the perch. He must finish at least tied for second with one player.
Howell was 3 under on his round as he played the final few holes of his round. He tied for the lead at the seventh hole, his 16th, when he knocked a 5-iron to 10 feet.
Howell dropped out of the lead quickly when his 9-iron second at the eighth found the right bunker. He could not get up and down, but birdied No. 9 to get in at minus-5.
The 25-year-old has not visited the winner's circle since his maiden victory at the 2002 Michelob Championship. He finished 34th on the money list in 2004, but has a pair of top-3 finishes this season and is poised to win again.
'I think I'm just finding it's really hard to win,' admitted Howell. 'I think I've found a way to be rather consistent and to have a lot of good finishes. But, you know, that step to winning is what I'm trying to figure out.'
Ames flew up the leaderboard with five birdies in a six-hole span on his opening nine, the front side at Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge. He was two shots ahead after that, but came back to the pack with bogeys at one and two, where he missed the green with his approach.
Ames, who won last year's Western Open, birdied the fifth hole to join Howell in the lead.
The 40-year-old from Trinidad was happy to finish his second round and thinks he has an advantage over those who have to play the better part of two rounds on Saturday.
'I'm off till four o'clock in the afternoon. I get to relax tonight and most of tomorrow. It's a big advantage, I'm sure,' said Ames. 'Though all of the guys had a big chance to relax today and tonight, as well.'
Ogilvie, who lost in a playoff last week at the Honda Classic, birdied his third hole to join the leaders in the clubhouse.
Pat Perez (70) and Briny Baird (73) are tied for sixth place at 2-under-par 142. Joey Sindelar, Jerry Kelly and Greg Owen are 2 under on the course. Mark Calcavecchia, Geoff Ogilvy, Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry, K.J. Choi and Aaron Baddeley are at minus-2 and yet to play their second rounds.
Defending champion Chad Campbell is even par through one hole, but is at 4 over for the championship.