By Steve Elling
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- They might have carried it a shade too far.
A couple of 20-something fans donned wigs with faux brown, curly hair on Friday and headed to the Honda Classic to back their favorite player, Rory McIlroy.
I asked one a question about when McIlroy was set to start his second round at PGA National, and one guy responded, "I tee off at 12:20."
The front of their shirts read, "Kiss Me, I'm Rory."
McIlroy himself certainly wasn't dressed as anybody other than a future world slayer, shooting a 3-under 67 to remain very much in the picture as the next player to assume the world's No. 1 ranking.
McIlroy, 22, is 7 under through 36 holes and one stroke behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Tom Gillis. With a victory, he will climb to No. 1 next week, which was apparently the message his two fans wrote on the back of their shirts.
"It had next Monday morning's world rankings -- their prediction," McIlroy laughed, describing what he'd read on their backs.
McIlroy meandered around for much of the day, missing a few chances early and then taking a long ride on the par train, before making birdies on three of the last five holes.
"You don't need to make tons of birdies, but you need to keep big numbers off your card," McIlroy said. "I know I don't have to make all of them, just a few of them."
Others seemed to make nearly everything, which compolicates the weekend task considerably for McIlroy, who joined the PGA Tour this year. Three players shot 64 to tie the Champion Course record, then lefty rookie Brian Harman shot 61 to obliterate the course mark.
Harman, 25, moved up more than 100 spots on the leaderboard. More charges from the rear guard could be in the offing unless the weather stiffens.
"A 61 around here is very, very impressive," McIlroy said.
With the projected cut at 1 over as McIlroy finished, there were more than 70 players within nine strokes of the lead on a course that, because the trademark winds have largely laid down, isn't nearly as toothy as in years past.