Tiger Woods improves at Honda Classic but has ground to make up

Tiger Woods has never won the Honda Classic and he has ground to make up if he's to triumph Sunday.

Story highlights

  • Tiger Woods has a better day at the Honda Classic on Friday in Florida
  • Woods shot a 1-under 69 but still trailed clubhouse leader Rory McIlroy by 11 shots
  • Former champion McIlroy shot a 66 a day after registering a 63 in Palm Beach Gardens
  • Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson are among those expected to miss the cut

The good news for Tiger Woods at the Honda Classic was that his second round was better than the first. But Woods still has a long way to go if he is to win his first golf tournament of 2014.

While Woods struggled to find his best form, Rory McIlroy had another fine day and was the clubhouse leader late in the second round at 11-under-par 129, 11 shots better than Woods.

Woods carded a 1-over 71 on Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens and improved by two shots Friday. He mixed three birdies with two bogeys, narrowly missing a birdie at the last on a shortish putt.

He got himself out of trouble at the 12th to save par following a poor tee shot and then executed a sumptuous chip for a birdie at the 13th.

The world No. 1 was expected to make the cut -- after missing a 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

Phil Mickelson, though, wasn't. 'Lefty' was at 1-over after a 71 Friday, undone by a double bogey at the 16th.

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"No, I won't make the cut," Mickelson, ranked fifth, told reporters. "I had a tough time making birdies. My distance control was off. It just wasn't sharp."

Henrik Stenson, the hottest player on the circuit at the end of 2013, surely won't be around on the weekend since he tallied a 9-over through two rounds. The Swede's round included a double bogey and six bogeys.

It was only last year that McIlroy walked off the course in the second round, blaming a toothache. He later apologized but the episode was all part of a poor 2013.

This week in Florida, McIlroy is looking more like the golfer who won the event in 2012 on his way to the No. 1 ranking.

"It's a different end of the spectrum I guess," McIlroy told the PGA Tour's website. "I wasn't quite comfortable with my golf swing. I was still tinkering with equipment. I just wasn't feeling in control of what I needed to be in control of.

"This year is obviously a lot different."

McIlroy couldn't match his sizzling 63 on Thursday but he still wasn't shabby.

After hitting bogeys in two of his first three holes, McIlroy didn't drop another shot and struck six birdies for a 66.

The tough course was clearly taking its toll, as McIlroy was the lone member of the top eight in the world rankings to be inside the top 20 at the Honda Classic nearing the end of play Friday.