Rory leads de Jonge by one in Honda

Rory McIlroy recorded a 4-under-par 66 and holds a one-stroke lead over Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe heading to the weekend in the Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland won the tournament two years ago, but walked off the course in the middle of the second round a year ago in disgust over his play with his new Nike irons.

“It’s a different end of the spectrum I guess,” said McIlroy, who bounced back from bogeys on two of his first three holes with six birdies one day after opening with a 63. “I wasn’t quite comfortable with my golf swing. I was still tinkering with equipment. I just wasn’t feeling in control of, you know, what I needed to be in control of. This year is obviously a lot different.

“I think it’s just a sign of a little more maturity, not really trying to force the issue or press (after making the early bogeys). I knew that with the way I’m playing and the confidence in my ability, I would be able to get those shots back. I didn’t panic.”

De Jonge, whose only professional victory came in the 2008 Xerox Classic on what is now the Tour, made three consecutive birdies through No. 12 and played the back nine in 5-under 30 to shoot 64.

Russell Henley followed an opening 64 with a 68 and was third, three shots back, while Russell Knox of Scotland carded a bogey-free 64 to tie for fourth with Lee Westwood of England, who had a 65.

Tiger Woods followed an opening 71 with a 69 to make the cut right on the number by closing with five consecutive pars after a chip-in birdie at No. 13 , while Phil Mickelson finished at 70-71 — 141 and missed the weekend by one stroke after failing to hole a 12-yard birdie chip on his final hole, No. 9.

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