Published Saturday, 01 March 2014
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the sixth hole in Florida (© Getty)
The 24-year-old finished four-under par on Friday to get to 11 under in Palm Beach and maintain his lead midway through the tournament he won two years ago.
He recovered from two bogeys in his opening three holes to sink six birdies, staying one stroke ahead of Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge and two clear of Russell Henley.
It means McIlroy is now in position to win his first PGA tour title since 2012.
McIlroy returned to the tournament after struggling for form last year, making headlines when he withdrew midway through his second round complaining of fatigue.
"It's a different end of the spectrum I guess," McIlroy told the PGA Tour website after Friday's round. "I wasn't quite comfortable with my golf swing. I was still tinkering with equipment. I just wasn't feeling in control of, you know, what I needed to be in control of.
"This year is obviously a lot different."
McIlroy says he has now regained his confidence.
"When you hit a few good shots, your confidence can go up quite quickly but then you hit one bad one, it can sort of go down again and that's where I was sort of most of last year," he said.
"Now I feel I'm happy with where my swing is, and even if I do hit a loose shot, I can get over it much quicker and much easier because I have the confidence in what I'm doing."
"I think it's just a sign of a little more maturity, not really trying to force the issue or press," McIlroy said. "I knew that with the way I'm playing and the confidence in my ability, I would be able to get those shots back. I didn't panic."
He says it is the best golf he has played in 18 months.
"I've had plenty of 36-hole leads before," McIlroy admitted. "I was leading by 10 at one point during the second round of the U.S. Open a couple years ago. I'm playing well and I'm comfortable."
© UTV News