J.B. Holmes hit four balls into the water Friday but emerged with a one-over 73 that saw his lead slashed in half after two rounds of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where Rory McIlroy made headlines for the wrong reasons.
After a stunning 62 on Thursday, Holmes had a 36-hole total of nine-under-par 135, his four-shot overnight lead over Ryan Moore whittled to two strokes over his fellow American.
While Holmes keeps the lead, world number one McIlroy spectacularly lost his temper, so irked was he by hitting into the water at the par-five eighth that he slung his three-iron into the drink, in an uncharacteristic fit of pique.
The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland, who will try to complete a career Grand Slam at the Masters next month, made one of his four bogeys at the hole, countering with six birdies in a 70 that left him tied for 11th on one-under 143.
“Frustration got the better of me,” McIlroy said. “I’ve sort of been fighting that miss basically for the last couple of weeks.”
He stressed that he didn’t think his behavior was anything to be proud of.
“It felt good at the time, but right now I regret it,” he said. “I walked away with a bogey and I was able to regroup and shoot a decent score.”
Holmes could no doubt relate to McIlroy’s frustration. After five birdies and four bogeys he was one-under for the day when he arrived at 18, where his tee shot into the water led to a double-bogey to end his round on a sour note.
Holmes’s second shot at the par-five first had hit the front left side of the green but trickled into the water leading to a bogey.
He bounced back with a 12-foot birdie at the second.
Holmes was in the water again at the third for another bogey, but he got that shot back with a birdie at eight, where he landed his third shot four feet from the pin and made the putt.
He appeared headed for a big finish after birdies at 16 and 17, but found the water at the last and missed the green with his third shot.
“Only had a few bad swings, but today every time I had a bad swing it was at the wrong time and went in the water,” Holmes said. “I had four balls in the water, but hit the ball great. It was kind of back and forth. All in all, it was a good day.”
Moore carded a one-under 71 to remain alone in second place on 137, one shot in front of Australian Adam Scott, whose four-under 68 was the low round of the day.
Masters champion Bubba Watson carded a three-under 69 to share fourth on 140 with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who posted a 71. – Agence France-Presse