DORAL, Fla. (AP) – Rory McIlroy's left-hand-low putting style was something he was considering switching to for a while before he took the plunge this week at the Cadillac Championship.
The reason he hesitated, he said, was he didn't want to be accused of mimicking Jordan Spieth.
"That was the whole thing for me," McIlroy said Friday, maybe only half-seriously.
Whatever works. McIlroy shot a 7-under 65 Friday on the Blue Monster at Doral, getting to 8 under for the week and going into the weekend tied with Dustin Johnson for second, two shots back of Adam Scott.
And the reason McIlroy is in prime position is his putting.
He needed 33 putts on Thursday, leaving several short in his first competitive round since switching his putting approach – something he's long tinkered with during practices. But on Friday, McIlroy took just 23 putts, making 15 of 16 from 10 feet or closer.
If he needed any more affirmation that the change works, it came on his closing hole Friday. McIlroy buried a 20-footer for birdie on the 18th, getting a huge roar from the grandstand and giving him plenty of momentum to take into Saturday.
"A great putt to finish with," McIlroy said. "Obviously gives me a lot of confidence going into the weekend."
For as good a round as it was, McIlroy left some chances out there as well. After uncorking a 353-yard drive on the 413-yard 17th, McIlroy's chip approach barely cleared a greenside bunker and left him about a 25-footer from the fringe. McIlroy flipped his wedge skyward after the chip, and the ensuing birdie try wasn't remotely close to the hole.
SPIETH'S DAY: World No. 1 Jordan Spieth didn't have much of anything going Friday.
Spieth made four birdies and four bogeys, including one on his finishing hole, and closed the day seven shots behind 36-hole leader Adam Scott. Spieth slammed a club back into his bag at one point in his round, then gave his scorecard a good slap when the day was over.
Spieth was in a group with world No. 2 Jason Day and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds. It only went well for McIlroy, who is 8 under and two shots off the lead at the midway point.
For as rough as Spieth found things Friday, Day's struggle was even more pronounced. He birdied two of his first three holes, then made five bogeys against one birdie the rest of the way and shot 74.
Day is 12 shots back of the lead going into the weekend.
TOUGH SLEDDING: Even with relatively calm conditions, at least by South Florida standards, the Blue Monster is never easy. There are plenty of golfers in this field who would attest to that.
Steven Bowditch shot 80 on Friday, which actually was a one-shot improvement over his opening round. Kristoffer Broberg improved by 10 shots from Thursday to Friday, and still shot 73. Hideki Matsuyama was actually 3 under through 12 holes on Thursday, and has played his last 24 holes in 12 over – three double bogeys helping him to an 81 on Friday.
The course gave up only one eagle all day Friday. That went to Kevin Kisner, who made a 3 at the par-5 eighth when he holed out from about 50 feet from the right rough.
QUOTABLE: "Even my club championship I'm on edge." – Bubba Watson, on if he's always nervous in competition.
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