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. -- Golf is starting to feel easy again for Rory McIlroy, who bounced back from a sloppy start Friday in the Honda Classic for a 4-under 66 that gave him his first 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour in 18 months. Tiger Woods is making it look hard. McIlroy recovered from two early bogeys by running off six birdies in a 10-hole stretch. He looked solid from tee-to-green, hit putts with growing confidence and wound up with a one-shot lead over Brendon de Jonge. "I knew that with the way Im playing and the confidence in my ability, I would be able to get those shots back," McIlroy said. "I didnt panic. I didnt try to do anything different. Just tried to keep playing the way I was." He was at 11-under 129. Woods felt fortunate to still be playing. He was over the cut line after scrambling for a bogey on the 11th hole and wound up with a 69 to make the cut on the number. Woods hit only two greens over his last nine holes. His lone birdie on the back nine was a chip-in on the 13th after he missed the green with a wedge. "It was a grind, theres no doubt about it," Woods said. "I didnt hit it very good. Just one of those days where I fought out a number, which was good." Because 79 players made the cut, there will be another cut to top 70 and ties on Saturday. Woods missed the 54-hole cut the last time he played on the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines. David Hearn (70) of Brantford, Ont., is tied for 23rd at 3 under. Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., did not make the cut after shooting a 72 and a 70. Calgarys Stephen Ames was also out after a 73 and a 75. And at least hes still playing the weekend. That wasnt the case for Phil Mickelson. Playing the Honda Classic for the first time in 12 years, he had a 71 to miss the cut. So did Henrik Stenson, the No. 3 player in the world, with rounds of 73-76. McIlroy knew the feeling a year ago, when he took a steep fall from No. 1 in the world while changing equipment and trying to live up to high expectations, leading to his snap decision to walk off the course after 26 holes last year at the Honda Classic. A growing gallery in warm sunshine at PGA National saw a familiar game -- the McIlroy who won the Honda Classic two years ago. Swinging freely and putting beautifully, McIlroy hit his stride on his back nine with four birdies in five holes, including the par-5 third when he smashed a drive some 35 yards past Adam Scott and had only a 6-iron into the green on the 539-yard hole. De Jonge, who has never won on the PGA Tour, played early in the afternoon when the wind picked up and put eight birdies on his card in a 64. He was tied for the lead when he missed the green with a wedge on No. 9 and made bogey. Even so, hell be in the last group Saturday with McIlroy. "I think I might have got a little bit of switch in the wind," de Jonge said. Russell Henley had a 68 and was three shots behind. Russell Knox of Scotland had the low round Friday at 63 and was four shots back along with Lee Westwood (65). But the focus is clearly on McIlroy, who each week looks to be getting better. "This year is obviously a lot different," McIlroy said. "Got off to a good start. Im confident. Im playing well. This is the second straight tournament Ive opened with a 63, so if I can keep building on these good starts, then hopefully I can start converting." After a 63 in Dubai, he said he was pressing too much in the final round and wound up in a tie for ninth. Friday was another step in the right direction, despite two errant tee shots on the 11th and 12th holes that led to bogeys. His round changed with a tee shot into 6 feet on the 16th hole for a birdie, and then a 12-foot birdie on the 18th to wrap up his front nine and earn back the two shots he had dropped. After a 45-foot birdie attempt on the second hole rimmed all the way around and out of the cup, Boy Wonder took off. He two-putted the par-5 third. He hit a wedge into 4 feet on the next hole. He rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt down the hill at the par-5 fifth. Then, after a tough par save on the sixth, he sank another 30-foot birdie putt that McIlroy made look routine. The gallery is kept 100 yards from the green, so the only applause came from a few marshals. It sounded like a tap-in for par. McIlroy reacted that way, too. "Watching Rory play is amazing when hes swinging like this," Scott said after his own great recovery. The Masters champ put shots in the water on the 16th and 17th holes, both times making double bogey, and it looked as though his return to golf after a six-week break would be a short one. But the Australian ran off four birdies on the front nine for a 70. It will take a lot more to catch McIlroy, who has taken only 49 putts through two rounds. "Thats probably the lowest putting total after 36 Ive probably had, maybe in my career," he said. "So its obviously going in the right direction." Doug Flutie Blue Jersey
. Speaking to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun on Friday, Brodeur said "Ive come to the conclusion that Im definitely going to be available July 1. Branden Oliver Blue Jersey
.C. -- Unable to get much lift off his sore right ankle, Bobcats centre Al Jefferson figured it was time to make an adjustment. PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins were glad to be back at Consol Energy Center after their longest road trip in three years. Recently, though, theyve felt right at home against the Washington Capitals regardless of where they play. Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, leading Pittsburgh to a 2-0 victory over Washington on Tuesday night. Jussi Jokinen and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins, who swept the teams home-and series one night after beating the Capitals 3-2 in Washington. Pittsburgh has beaten its longtime rivals a franchise-record eight straight times. "Every time we play them, its pretty intense," said Fleury, who has 28 career shutouts. "Its always a close game and a hard-fought game, so its nice to get the W." The Penguins have also won three in a row and picked up at least a point in eight of their last 10 games. Pittsburgh was at home for the second time since the end of the Olympic break, having travelled more than 6,000 miles in playing five games over three time zones the previous 10 days. Jaroslav Halak stopped 32 shots in his third start for Washington. Alexander Ovechkin was held without a point for the fourth consecutive game as the Capitals lost for the fourth time in their last five. Fleury tied his career high for shutouts in a season while winning his sixth straight start against the Capitals, whom the Penguins swept the season series from for the second year in a row. "We created a lot more chances than last game and more shots, and that was something we wanted to improve on," Crosby said. "But defensively we were pretty good." Pittsburgh widened its lead in the Eastern Conference to three points over the idle Boston Bruins and also increased its Metropolitan Division bulge to 16 points over the New York Rangers. Unlike Fleury, Halak was played both games on consecutive nights between the teams. Acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres last week, Halaks first three starts with the Capitals have come over a four-day span. Jokinen beat him at 16:41 of the first. Left unchecked by Capitals defenceman Mike Green while skating through the slot, Jokinen offered a deft re-direct of Matt Niskanens shot from the right point for his 17th goal of the season -- but first since Jan. 30. Evgeni Malkin earned the second assist on the play, extending his assists streak to five games. Crosby scored for the second straight night against Halak, this time with a low wrist shot to the stick side with 5:48 left in the game after skating swiftly down the right wing. Halak said he wass surprised by the shot -- he was expecting Crosby to pass it to Chris Kunitz. King Dunlap Chargers Jersey
. . "I just tried to look to pass as long as I could," Crosby said, "just to see if hed bite and try to hold him there." Lee Stempniak had the only assist on the goal in his home debut for Penguins after he and fellow forward Marcel Goc were acquired in trade-deadline day deals last week. Eleven minutes into the second period, the Capitals came the closest to scoring when rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov flipped a shot from just to the right of Fleury that clanged off the post before deflecting off of Fleurys left pad as he sprawled out. "If we tie the game there," Ovechkin said, "maybe its a little bit different game." Largely untested and forced to make just 12 saves through two periods, Fleury faced the brunt of the Washington onslaught during the third. "The first period, they controlled the game," Ovechkin said. "The last 30 minutes, we played our game, got the puck deep, started to cycle. Maybe we were just a little bit tired, maybe we were just a little sleepy. We just werent ready for the first period. The Capitals No.2 NHL power play had two opportunities over the games final 12 minutes, plus an extended 6-on-5 with Halak pulled over the final 90 seconds. But Fleury denied chances by Mark Chimera, Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson for some of his best third-period saves. "The first and second, there werent too many shots," Fleury said. "The third was crazy -- but it was fun though. You get a good sweat and get a win." Washington dropped into 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings and dropped three points out of the final playoff spot. "(The desperation level) needs to be a little more from everybody," Halak said. "Now, its do-or-die for us." NOTES: Kunitz missed a shift after crashing violently into the goal post during the third period. Bylsma said the contact was not directly to Kunitzs knee. ... Washington C Brooks Laich did not make the trip to Pittsburgh because he continues to be hampered by a groin injury. Laich has missed two of the past four games. ... Early Tuesday, the Capitals recalled C Casey Wellman and D Patrick Wey from their American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey. Wey, a native of a Pittsburgh suburb, was a healthy scratch. ... Before the game, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that D Kris Letang has been skating and working out in Pittsburgh. Letang has not played since suffering a stroke Jan. 29. He remains out indefinitely. cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys
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