GRAEME McDowell carded a flawless 67 to reach halfway at 11 under par at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami.
The Northern Irishman must now attempt to overhaul a rejuvenated Tiger Woods over the final 36 holes to win the £985,000 first prize on offer to whoever can tame the Blue Monster at Doral.
McDowell watched fellow joint first-round leader Woods go two better with a 65 containing eight birdies and one bogey.
On a truly world-class leaderboard, Phil Mickelson was a shot behind McDowell after a second straight 67 which almost finished with a hole in one, while Steve Stricker was also 10 under and could come to regret giving Woods a putting lesson on Wednesday when the £5.8 million event concludes today.
Scotland’s Scott Jamieson will be pleased with his second-round 69 which leaves him eight off the lead on five under but compatriots Stephen Gallacher and Paul Lawrie fared less well. Gallacher’s 75 means he is five over, while Lawrie is propping up the field on seven-over 151 after adding a 73 to his first-round 78.
McDowell said: “It looks like Tiger has got the eye in round here and he is always exciting when he is playing well. But I am very happy with my performance over the first two days. I’m feeling really good on these greens and positioned it well off the tee which you have to do on this course.”
Woods was looking in ominously good form as he seeks a seventh win in the event and a 17th WGC title of his career.
The 14-time major winner picked up shots at the fourth and fifth before another birdie on the seventh took him into the outright lead for the first time, while a wayward drive on the par-five eighth could not prevent another birdie after he pitched to 15ft and coaxed in a curling putt.
Out in 32, Woods also birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th before his only bogey of the day on the 14th, but that was soon followed by a 17th birdie of the week – a new career best through 36 holes – on the 16th and two closing pars.
After two days of perfect scoring conditions, stronger winds were forecast for the weekend, while the course will then be “blown up” on Monday in the words of owner Donald Trump as major renovations take place.
n Scotland’s Kylie Walker carded a third round 75 to lie 14 shots off the lead at the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills in China. Fellow Scot Carly Booth is four shots further back after a 74. South Korea’s Inbee Park leads by two from Suzann Pettersen of Norway.