Phil Mickelson established a two shot lead but Rory McIlroy showed he had the nerve to match his talent as he reached the halfway point at Doral firmly in contention at the World Golf Championships - CA Championship.
The 19 year old from Northern Ireland, who won his maiden professional tournament in January at the Dubai Desert Classic, is bidding to become the youngest winner in US PGA Tour history, eclipsing the achievement of Johnny McDermott in winning the 1911 US Open at 19 years, ten months and 14 days.
McIlroy will beat that by two days if he conquers the Blue Monster course and the top 70 golfers in the world in an 80 man field on Sunday, and he displayed every indication he will still be in the hunt after finishing his second round with an eagle and a birdie following a back nine wobble.
McIlroy carded a six under round of 66 to reach the halfway mark of this tournament in a tie for third place with Kenny Perry of the United States at ten under par, three strokes back of Mickelson, who posted a 66, and one behind another American Nick Watney, on 11 under.
He is there after bouncing back from a run of two bogeys in three holes at his 14th and 16th that sent him down to seven under.
McIlroy rallied at his penultimate hole, the par five eighth, with an eagle three after sending in a 266 yard second shot with his three wood to seven feet.
McIlroy then birdied the ninth to close his out his round with an approach shot from 203 yards to eight feet, from where he holed out.
“I just made two bad bogeys to drop back to seven under and I just ripped a drive up the fairway and I had 268 to the hole,” McIlroy said.
“It was a perfect three wood for me.
“It was a nice way to finish there, making eagle at the eighth and then birdie the ninth.”
World Number Three Mickleson had finished in style for his 65 on day one, chipping in for birdies at both the 17th and 18th holes to complete a back nine of six birdies and no bogeys.
It led the American left hander, a three-time major champion, to state he was playing as well as he ever had, and he started in confident mood with a birdie at the tenth.
Mickelson overcame a bogey six at his third hole before hitting his stride with four birdies before striking gold again with a chip in from 33 feet at the seventh, his 16th, for a birdie three.
No sooner had he joined Prayad Marksaeng in the lead at 12 under than the Thai carded a triple bogey seven at the final hole to drop back to nine under for the tournament after a second round 70.
Mickelson holed another birdie at his 17th on the way to a second round 66.
Perry hit an eight under 64, equaling Spain’s Alvaro Quiros for the lowest round of the day, while Camilo Villegas of Colombia shot a four under 68 to take him to nine under alongside Marksaeng and Australia’s Rod Pampling.
Ian Poulter leads the eight man English contingent, in a seven way tie for seventh place at eight under following a second round, five under 67.
One shot further back was Ireland’s Padraig Harrington who posted a battling 71.