Woodland hits the front as McIlroy rises at Tournament of Champions

Gary Woodland earned a three-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Tournament of Champions, where Rory McIlroy lurks ahead of Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.

American Woodland embraced the conditions in Maui County, Hawaii following a six-under-par 67 in round two on Friday.

Woodland – a three-time PGA Tour winner and last year’s Phoenix Open champion – jumped to the top of the leaderboard thanks to back-to-back 67s, which included eight birdies and a pair of bogeys.

The 34-year-old got hot on the back nine, reeling off four successive birdies from the 11th to the 15th hole before gaining another stroke at the last.

Like Woodland, former world number one McIlroy was able to play well through the wind — which at one point was gusting at Plantation Course.

Four-time major champion McIlroy climbed four positions thanks to his second-round 68 that featured six birdies – three of which came in the final five holes.

Bryson DeChambeau joined round-one leader Kevin Tway (71) and McIlroy in a three-way tie for second place at nine under after carding a 68.

Marc Leishman posted a 70 to be in sole possession of fifth place at eight under, a shot ahead of 2017 champion Justin Thomas (72), Xander Schauffele (67), and Cameron Champ (68).

Thomas endured a mixed round, hindered by a double-bogey at the 14th hole, while the American star also dropped shots at the second and fourth.

Jason Day (71), Patton Kizzire (71) and Ian Poulter (69) ended day two six under through 36 holes, a stroke ahead of defending champion Johnson.

Johnson fell 10 places to five under with Jon Rahm (71) after carding two bogeys and a double bogey through his first six holes.

He was able to bounce back and sink three birdies — two on the back nine — but ultimately finished the day one-over 74.

The no-cut rule ensures everyone will play through the weekend as Johnson hopes to make up some ground in his quest for back-to-back titles.