PALM BEACH GARDENS — Dudley Hart spent some of Friday afternoon poised to turn the Honda Classic into a runaway. Later in the day, it was Brian Davis' turn to take what seemed like a huge lead.
But PGA National eventually caught up with them.
And by nightfall, the Honda leaderboard was muddled again.
Davis shot 3-under 67 to finish the day 8 under, one shot better than Matt Jones (67) and two ahead of Hart — whose last victory was at the 2000 Honda, and who peeled off six straight birdies to shoot 66.
"Around this course, I think you'd need about a 20-shot lead with one round to go," Davis said. "You know around here, it's going to come down to the last nine holes, just the way the course is set up.
"I can't see anybody getting a six-shot lead out there tomorrow."
He almost had one Friday.
After a bogey-free opening round, Davis started his second round just as precisely, getting to 10 under at one point and four shots clear of the field.
Then this diabolical course — as it typically does — began to fight back.
Davis made double bogey at the par-3 seventh, his 16th of the day, then missed the green to the right and slid a 10-foot par try just past the cup on his final hole.
Ernie Els shot 70 and was in a group of six players, including Mark Calcavecchia and Robert Allenby, five shots back of Davis.
First-round leader Luke Donald shot 74, including quadruple bogey on the 14th, to fall six shots back.
LPGA: In her first tournament of the year, top-ranked Lorena Ochoa finds herself exactly where she ended up last season: atop the leaderboard. Ochoa, an eight-time winner in 2007, shot 7-under 65 to increase her lead to seven in the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. Ochoa's 13-under total gives her plenty of separation from Annika Sorenstam, In-Kyung Kim and Paula Creamer going into the weekend.
"It was great from my driver to the putting," said Ochoa, who won the season-ending ADT Championship in November. "I kept hitting my second shots really close and gave myself a lot of birdie chances, so I was very consistent. One of those days you really want to memorize and hopefully repeat."
Ochoa followed a 6-under opening round with eight birdies — including four in a row on the front nine. Sorenstam shot bogey-free 5-under 67, highlighted by birdies on her final four holes, to pull into a second-place tie with Creamer and Kim.
"It was just good golf," said Sorenstam, who won the season-opening SBS Open. "I just needed one good putt to kick-start the great finish, and I was just very solid throughout the round."
Creamer had four birdies and three bogeys for 1-under 71. Kim had four birdies and eagle on the par-5 ninth, but triple bogeyed the 13th on top of an earlier bogey. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome made five bogeys during a 2-over 74, putting her at 6-over 148.
European/Australasian: Shiv Kapur fired 7-under 65 to take a share of the lead with Unho Park at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Gurgaon, India. Kapur had eagle and five birdies to join Park at 10-under 134. Park shot 66. Adam Scott (8 under) and Vijay Singh (6 under) were within striking distance of the lead.
PODS CHAMPIONSHIP: Five of the top 17 players in the world rankings have committed to play in the event next week at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor: Steve Stricker (No. 3), Ernie Els (4), Justin Rose (7), Stewart Cink (15) and Geoff Ogilvy (17). Five players withdrew from the event, the biggest being Justin Leonard (36). The field includes 76 of the top 100 players from the 2007 PGA Tour money list and 47 players from the current world rankings.