Charlie Wi & Robert Allenby lead at halfway
When walking between shots, Will MacKenzie doesn't think about his swing or where he should have put the ball.
In fact, he's not even thinking about golf.
"Ducks and stuff," MacKenzie said. "I'm a duck hunter. Ducks flying around everywhere. I know every bird in the book. I can spot a bird from 300 yards and tell you exactly if it's a drake whatever, cormorant or something. Or I just think about the good old days when I used to snowboard and stuff."
Don't let answers like that fool you: MacKenzie is just as serious about his game as anyone, if not more so. He shot a 1-under-par 69 on Friday to get to 3 under for the tournament and two shots behind front-running Robert Allenby (68) and Charlie Wi (a wild 70) at the halfway point of the Honda Classic.
MacKenzie, who won the Reno-Tahoe Open last year and was fourth at the Mercedes Championship to open this season, made double-bogey at the par-3 seventh, his 16th hole of the day. But birdies at the final two holes got him back to 3 under, putting him solidly in contention to prevail at PGA National.
"Maybe my every-day life is like, no-worries attitude, but when I'm on the golf course I'm pretty intense," said MacKenzie, a colorful character who quit golf in his teens so he could sleep in his van for five years and spend time surfing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors. "I want to play well. I want to succeed."
Everyone at PGA National this week feels the same way.
Few of them, however, actually are finding success. The cut was 4 over and only 30 broke par Friday, with 71.9 being the average score for the round.
MacKenzie and Steve Stricker were tied for third at 3 under after 69s, and Daniel Copra, Joe Ogilvie, Mathias Gronberg, Camilo Villegas and Mark Wilson were another shot back. Wilson and Gronberg shot 66s, the best round of the day.
"These pin positions aren't as tough as they would be at a major, but tee-to-green, it's set up like a U.S. PGA," said 2005 winner Padraig Harrington, who was among a group another shot back at 1 under.
Allenby is winless in his last 139 PGA Tour events, yet came here this week insisting it's only a matter of time before that streak ends. His play is backing up that assertion.
"I think 5 under is a pretty good score after two days," the Australian said. "This golf course is only going to get tougher from this moment on."
It's plenty tough already.
Wi will attest to that.
He fell out of the lead by making triple-bogey on No. 11, his second hole, after balls found hazards and bunkers with such regularity that he actually thought he made an 8 instead of a 7.
"Got a stroke back there," Wi said.
A run of three straight birdies, starting with a chip-in from just off the green at 12, immediately undid the damage caused by the triple, but by round's end, it seemed as if Wi was alternating birdies and bogeys. He made back-to-back birdies to pass Allenby with two holes left, but dropped another shot on the par-4 ninth, his last of the day.
In all, he had eight pars, six birdies, three bogeys and one triple-bogey -- not to mention six consecutive 3s at one point.
"The way I hung in there today, I'm really happy," Wi said. "But I'm really disappointed in the middle of the round, where I kind of lost focus out there. ... To shoot 70 after the way I started, I'm really pleased."
Defending champion Luke Donald made the cut -- barely.
Donald was 7 over after 14 holes, but made three consecutive birdies to rally and avoid what would have been his third consecutive missed cut in a stroke-play event. He shot a 67, 10 shots better than what he managed Thursday.
Bernhard Langer, though, went in the opposite direction, adding nine strokes to his Thursday score.
Langer started the day one shot behind Wi, and took the outright lead with two birdies in his first four holes. But he was 6 over on the back nine and wound up shooting a 75, falling to 1 over for the tournament in a tie for 25th.
"The last seven holes or so, I made nothing, basically," Langer said. "Left putts short, drove it into the rough, missed fairways, missed greens ... that's a bad combination."