Palm Beach Gardens, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Although the start to his day was delayed for a few hours, Brendan Steele played his first four holes at 4- under to take a 2-shot lead when play was suspended due to darkness at the Honda Classic on Friday.
Once Steele was able to get back on the course for day two, he surged up to 8- under par to take the lead with the majority of his second round still to go. Steele has one career victory on the PGA Tour at the 2011 Texas Open.
Play was delayed two separate times due to inclement weather. The total delay time on Friday was 3 hours and 44 minutes. All of the morning groups were able to finish their rounds, while every afternoon group is still in the middle of their second round.
Second-round play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with the hopes of finishing up around noon before starting the third round.
Patrick Reed, this year's Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner, carded his second straight 3-under 67 on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa and he is alone in second at 6-under-par 134.
"Yesterday it was so windy, but it was pretty dry and it seemed to get firm out there. Then today, it was probably the longest day ever it felt like with the rain coming early and then also it started getting windy towards the end," said Reed. "I just had to stay patient."
First-round leader Jim Herman finished just three holes on Friday. He is even par through those three holes, putting him alone in third at minus-5.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, making his first start on the PGA Tour this season, struggled again and shot a 4-over 74, putting him at 7-over 147 for the week. With the cut currently projected at 4-over, McIlroy will more than likely not be around for the weekend.
Steele, who entered the round alone in second and one shot behind Herman, was also two strokes behind Reed to start the day.
Reed's lead quickly evaporated as Steele got off to a roaring start. At the first, Steele stuck his approach to within 15 feet and he drained that for his first birdie of the day.
At the second, after a bunker shot left his ball still 37 feet from the hole, Steele rolled in the long birdie effort to tie Reed at 6-under.
Steele continued to surge as he drained putts from eight and 10 feet on Nos. 3 and 4 to make it four straight birdies to start his day. Steele will finish up the par-3 fifth hole when play resumes on Saturday.
Reed, who's 67 on Thursday put him in a tie for third at the end of day one, got off to a tough start as he tripped to a double-bogey on the par-4 11th. It was all smooth sailing from there for Reed, however.
The four-time tour winner rolled in three birdie putts from inside 15 feet at 13, 16 and 18, which propelled him up to 4-under and into red numbers for the day.
After making the turn and pouring in back-to-back pars on Nos. 1 and 2, Reed hit the green on his second shot at the par-5 third. From 44 feet away, Reed two-putted for another gain.
Reed later holed an 11-foot putt for birdie on No. 5, which gave him the outright lead at 6-under. The 2014 United States Ryder Cup team member coasted to the finish with four straight pars from six.
"After that quick double on the second hole I played, all I could do was keep my foot down, try to hit some greens and hopefully make some putts," Reed said.
McIlroy had a tough time in difficult conditions for the second straight day. The Ulsterman tripped to bogeys on 10 and 18 before making the turn at 2-over.
Needing to play the front nine, his back, strong in order to make the cut, McIlroy continued to struggle. McIlroy rolled in his first and only birdie of the day on No. 5 before finishing poorly with bogeys on three of his final four holes on six, seven and nine.
"Usually I'm good at taking it from the range to the course. That's never really been a problem with me, but this week, it was funny, it felt like the first week of the season when I've actually played two events," McIlroy admitted. "I felt yesterday maybe a little bit tentative just trying to ease my way into the round a little bit and not really being that aggressive."
NOTES: Steele already has one tie for second this season at the Humana Challenge, but is still looking for his first win on tour since 2011 ... McIlroy only missed on cut last year, and that was at the European Tour's Irish Open on June 20 ... The last time McIlroy missed the cut on American soil was at the 2012 U.S. Open, 988 days ago ... Defending champion Russell Henley is also in danger of missing the cut. He is 7-over through seven holes in his second round ... With the cut projected at 4-over, big names such as Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Billy Horschel and Dustin Johnson are all projected to miss the weekend.