In the feature group of the afternoon starters, Tiger Woods continued his comeback with a one-under-par 70, while Jordan Spieth limped round in 76 (+5). In fact, McIlroy covered his outward run with a run of nine straight pars; but it was a stark contrast on his back nine as he claimed only one birdie to go along with two bogeys and a double-bogey.
The 14-time major champion was four under through 14 holes of his second round on Friday, which left him in the outright lead at five under par. 2 and 5 to take the lead by himself before missing a 5-foot par putt on No. 18 for a bogey that sullied his clean card for the day.
Woods finished his first round on Thursday at one-under par, and got off to a very solid start on Friday with two birdies on the back nine (his first nine) and one on the 2nd hole to get to four-under and tie the leaders.
Despite a chilly morning in Tampa, Woods' first appearance at Valspar has drawn Sunday-at-a-major-type galleries.
"Today was a good day".
"I enjoy when par is a good score, it's a reward, " said Woods, per ESPN.
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The last time Woods had led a PGA Tour event came during the third round of the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
Woods began to climb the leaderboard when he birdied the par-four 12th and par-three 13th, putting irons to within six to eight feet on both holes and sinking the follow-up putts.
It made for an awkward stance to say the least and Woods would make contact with the tree as he made his escape, but luckily there was no serious injury.
"I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these little subtle tweaks".
Woods - now ranked 388 in the world - last won at the Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013 but looks to be building on his 12th-place finish at the Honda Classic in February. I mean he played well at the end of last year and got off a great start this year. "You just couldn't. (caddie) Joey (LaCava) and I really had a hard time today figuring out what to hit, what the trajectory is, am I going to hit it above the tree or around the tree height?"
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