England’s Justin Rose and big-hitting playing partner Bubba Watson made it a day to remember in Miami.
Rose shot a superb round of 64 to climb to 11 under par, one off the pace set by left-hander Watson, who was only one outside the Doral Blue Monster course record with a ten under par round of 62 on the second day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
On a good day for The European Tour contingent, Peter Hanson lies in fourth place after a round of 65, Thomas Björn is one further back after a second successive bogey-free 68, and Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer are tied for seventh on seven under, with the German matching Rose’s 64.
Between them, Watson and Rose compiled an eagle and 17 birdies, with the American’s six foot putt for a three at the par five eighth hole – their 17th – ultimately settling their battle for supremacy in his favour.
“That was a fun round, we fed off each other’s energy,” said Rose. I don't know whether they rolled the greens after the rain we had this morning, but the putts rolled so smoothly today.”
The 31 year old is, of course, trying to make it back-to-back wins for European golfers in America, following Rory McIlroy’s Honda Classic success last Sunday.
Rose started the day three strokes behind joint overnight leaders Adam Scott and Jason Dufner, but he swiftly erased that deficit by starting with a hat-trick of birdies, and picked up further gains at the 16th and 17th holes to turn in 31.
Already a three-time winner in the States, the former European Tour Number One then moved to seven under par for his first 11 holes by two-putting the long first and pitching to four feet on the next.
Rose repeated that trick three holes later, saved par from the rough on the 442-yard sixth hole and then again from fairway bunkers at the 454-yard seventh and long eighth holes.
He was three shots ahead at one point, but Watson, also out in 31, finished the stronger with birdies at the fifth and sixth holes before his glorious eagle.
Scott is now in third place on ten under par, one better than Swede Hanson, while Luke Donald’s round of 68 took him to six under par.
“It was one of those days, I drove the ball well and gave myself plenty of chances out there,” said Hanson.
"It's nice to get a low one today, and tomorrow, as we know, is moving day. If the wind stays like it was today, we are going to see some more low scores. Bubba shot 62, so there probably are a few low ones out there. You just have to keep your foot on the gas and try to go forward."
Bjorn, without a bogey for 36 holes, is delighted with his position at the halfway stage and particularly after struggling with a back injury the last two weeks.
"I haven't made a bogey in two days - you'll take that any week," said the 13-time European Tour winner. "I'm not making a big number of birdies obviously but when you can keep big mistakes off your scorecard, as I said yesterday, that's the key to this golf course. It's very easy to make some big mistakes and it's difficult to get it back.
"So I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing. I'm delighted that I'm in the position I'm in. And I'm just looking forward to another two days."
Kaymer needed only 25 putts in his round of 64, including one from 45 feet for eagle on the tenth.
"It was maybe a little bit easier to play today," said the German, the World Number One this time last year. "But I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens today, and I think the key on that golf course is to hit fairways and then you can create birdie chances."
New World Number One Rory McIlroy could not make the most of an eagle-birdie start and after a three-putt bogey finish for a 69 is ten adrift, while Tiger Woods shot a bogey-free 67, yet still finds himself seven behind.
Lee Westwood, playing with the two players ahead of him in the Official World Golf Ranking in McIlroy and Donald, had the best round of the three – a 67 – but that came after a 76, and he is on one under par compared to the Northern Irishman’s two under.
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