Rory McIlroy gets chilli reception
Published 02/03/2012 | 09:07
Rory McIlroy may have found the missing ingredient in his bid to become world number one - his mother's cooking.
The 22-year-old US Open champion is able to stay at his new Florida base for this week's Honda Classic and he is in joint second place - with Justin Rose among others - going into today's second round.
McIlroy's parents are over from Northern Ireland for the tournament and his opening 66 came after he tweeted on Wednesday night: "My mum's homemade chilli - awesome."
Having missed a chance to end Luke Donald's nine-month reign by losing the final of the Accenture Match Play in Tucson last week, he will go top if he wins this Sunday.
American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love, 48 next month, is the only player ahead of him at PGA National after a course record-equalling 64 that included a hole-in-one at the fifth.
Lee Westwood, whom McIlroy beat in the semi-finals last weekend, stood level par overnight and with a one-over 71 Tiger Woods is just inside the halfway cut mark. He made only one putt over 10 feet.
"They rolled over a lot of edges and I hit the ball a lot better than I scored," said Woods. "A round I should have been probably two or three under par quickly turned into one over. I just didn't get a lot out of my round."
Ian Poulter was due to play with Westwood and Woods, but withdrew before the start and took to his sickbed after a chest X-ray revealed he was suffering from pneumonia.
"Never been so disappointed in pulling out of a tournament. Never felt so ruff," he posted on Twitter and it remains to be seen if he will recover in time for next week's World Championship in Miami.
Love, who insists he will play against Europe in Chicago in September if he qualifies, knows the threat McIlroy poses to his hopes of a first win in nearly three and a half years.
"I see in Rory a willingness to do whatever it takes to be a top player," he said.
"He's worked hard. He says and does all the right things. It looks like he's really working out in the gym.
"He's soaking it all in to do all he can to be a great player. That determination, that little bit of something extra that drives you - I think he's got it."
McIlroy said: "I feel like I've got a few targets in my head and I'm sort of striving to get to those.
"Obviously with all of the talk of number one it would be great to get to that position at some point.
"I feel like I'm playing good enough to challenge for it at least, but I'm working towards trying to peak my game from April through to August for the four majors and for the big tournaments.
"I want to give myself the best possible chance going into those tournaments.
"I feel like my work ethic is probably increased a little bit this year as well. It comes down to hard work and just wanting it a little bit more."
England's Justin Rose matched his 66 and Padraig Harrington came home in 32 to match Westwood's score, but Graeme McDowell and Open champion Darren Clarke need to improve on their 73s to survive the cut tonight.