• WGC-Cadillac Championship

McIlroy and McDowell one off lead at brutal Doral

ESPN staff
March 8, 2014
Over one hundred balls found their way into water hazards in severe winds on Friday © Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell sit one shot off the lead at the halfway stage of the WGC-Cadillac Championship after a brutal day at Doral where only three men shot under par in their second round.

One of those was McDowell, who made 71 in the severe winds at the revamped Blue Monster course. The Northern Irish duo are joined at level-par for the tournament by Welshman Jamie Donaldson (70) and Italy's Francesco Molinari (75).

In total, 113 balls found their way into water hazards on Friday, after weather delays on Thursday left a large number of players first needing to complete their opening rounds.

The European quartet trail Americans Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Patrick Reed, who are the only players currently under par.

McDowell shot two birdies to go with one bogey, while Donaldson recorded the best round of the day with three birdies and a single bogey. American Chris Clark was the only other player to shoot below par on Friday, making 71.

McIlroy, who lost out in a play-off at the Honda Classic at the weekend, looked to be in trouble after shooting 40 on the front nine but recovered the finish with 74.

"There weren't balls rolling off greens," McDowell said. "There weren't putts oscillating. It wasn't really anything silly going on. It was just brutally difficult. I don't think I have ever played in conditions like this in the US. It was an Open Championship day.

"But you can't stand here and criticise the golf course in any shape or form. The greens were fantastic and, like I say, the ball was very stable."

Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, who is aiming to take the American's world No.1 spot this week, endured a frustrating day.

Scott dropped six shots including two double bogeys in his first five holes as he resumed his first round, while Woods dropped four.

Woods did manage to sink a 92-foot birdie putt at the fourth in his second round, however, with both men fighting back to hit 73. Scott sits at four over with Woods six off the lead.

Asked whether the course was fair, Woods said: "For the most part. I think it was just some of the pin locations were a little bit on the edgy side because of the wind directions. You just couldn't get the ball close. From that standpoint, it was right on the teetering point. I think some of the guys will be probably pretty upset about some of the pins."

Phil Mickelson also looked to be down and out after three consecutive double bogeys at the start of his second round, but recovered with five birdies to post 75, leaving him five over.

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