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Friday, 08 March 2013
Graeme McDowell   (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)

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Graeme McDowell led the chasing pack as Tiger Woods stepped up his quest for a seventh WGC - Cadillac Championship title with a sizzling 65 in the second round at Trump Doral in Miami.

Not content with yesterday’s birdie laden 66, Woods - one of five overnight leaders on six under par - went one better on the Blue Monster today.

The 14 time Major Champion took full advantage of glorious conditions to end the day 13 under par - two shots ahead of McDowell.

The Northern Irishman looked the most dangerous of Woods’ challengers given his outstanding consistency thus far in the event.

The 2010 US Open Championship Winner, starting on the tenth, began with seven successive pars before picking up shots on 17 and four.

Birdies at five and eight were added to on the par three last as he delivered a quite brilliant tee shot to set up an easy putt; that completed his second successive bogey free round, creating a 36 hole run that is his best effort on The PGA Tour.

McDowell, the only player to have not yet dropped a shot, said: “I saw Phil (Mickelson) sneaking up the leaderboard there behind me and I said to Kenny, I said, let's spoil this party tomorrow.

“I'm sure they would have liked Tiger and Phil in the last group tomorrow; it would have been great for the tournament, but I certainly will enjoy the position of being in the last group and the mix. That's right where I wants to be. 

“It’s great to see the best players in the game playing as well as they are. It’s always exciting to have Tiger and Phil playing well. It brings the crowds and puts people behind their TV screens and that's what's important.”

McDowell heads into tomorrow having shown an impressive ability to out-duel Woods in the past, notably in the 2010 Chevron World Challenge.

On that occasion, he holed an 18 footer to force an unlikely play-off before doing likewise from 25 to emerge triumphant at Woods' expense.

He added: “I guess, what have I learned, is not to be intimidated by him or the circus around him. The intimidating thing about playing with him is what goes on inside the ropes, and it isn't him, that's kind of what I'm saying.

“He's an incredible guy to play with, very sporting, always complimentary, and like I say I've played with him enough now to feel comfortable. 

“It really doesn't matter who you're playing with. You're playing against the golf course. That's the great thing about this sport.  

“The other guy can't tackle you. The other guy can't hit your golf ball. All you can do is just play this great golf course and come the back nine Sunday, we'll see what happens.”

Having looked initially solid with three pars, World Number Two Woods found the outstanding approach play that was the hallmark of yesterday’s display.

He gained a shot on the par three fourth following an iron to four feet, and repeated the trick with a wedge at the next.

Another stupendous effort into the green followed to earn a shot on seven and, as if to show all facets of his game were working in unison, Woods let his putter do the work on the par five eighth prior to completing an outward 32.

Similar style was to come on the back as Woods picked up birdies at ten, 11, 13 and 16 - which offset a bogey on 14 - to complete an outstanding seven under round - matched only by South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel.

Woods has profited from outstanding conditions over the last two days, but is not expecting that over the next couple.

The weather forecast suggests the kind of wind that is famous at this resort could well appear over the weekend, while the current leader also notes that the course will be revamped at its conclusion.

“I think they are going to try and push it a little bit,” he said. “It would be fun if they did. We did it last year at Bay Hill on Sunday. 

“It basically was a U.S. Open that broke out in Orlando. We don't get too many opportunities where the weather co-operates where they can push the golf course to a point where it's pretty tough like that.”

Schwartzel ended the day eight under for the tournament, one shot adrift of Bubba Watson and two behind Steve Stricker and Woods’ familiar foe Phil Mickelson.

Having thrilled the crowd throughout a performance featuring just two bogeys, Mickelson left the galleries cheering on the last by almost producing a hole in one, falling just a foot short.

He would eventually have to settle for birdie, but could take solace from being 10 under par following a second successive 67.

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