Wednesday 25 April 2018

McDowell gets on birdie trail to drive into Honda contention

William S Callahan

GRAEME McDOWELL ensured Irish fans would have something to cheer about at The Honda this weekend as he swept to within four strokes of rookie Luke Guthrie's clubhouse lead at PGA National.

The Portrush hero showed the same fighting qualities which clinched top-10 finishes at PGA National in the past two years as he followed a polished 67 on Thursday with yesterday's second-round 68.

McDowell rebounded from bogeys at five and six on his way home to birdie the next two holes, getting to five-under. Tiger Woods looked certain to make the cut on the mark, even par, after a 70.

Lee Westwood hit what Keegan Bradley said was "the best shot I've ever seen" as he recorded a 68 to move deep into contention.

On six-under, the Englishman was three behind. While Westwood's two-under second round was not as controlled as his opening 66, it did feature some impressive up-and-downs. None was any more spectacular than the par save on the 16th. Westwood's ball was actually on the edge of the water to the right of the par-four green and caused a huge splash as he swung his wedge.

With the pin a few yards over the bunker between the lake and the green, Westwood was staring at a double bogey, but his ball popped up and somehow finished within five feet. "It was my best ever up-and-down, I think, but Keegan reckons it was actually the best shot he's ever seen," Westwood said.

Meanwhile, Charl Coetzee claimed a four-shot lead at the top of the Tshwane Open leaderboard at the midway point of the second day at the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate. The South African fired a seven-under-par round of 65 to go 12-under in total and finish four strokes ahead of English duo David Howell and Danny Willett.

Damien McGrane shot a second-round 71 to leave him on five-under, while Darren Clarke struggled to a one-over-par 73 for the day, which left him tied for 63rd place.

Honda Classic,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.0

Tshwane Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 10.30

Irish Independent

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