Martin Kaymer knew that he would probably not have a round on Friday like he had on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass. After all, he tied the course record of 63 in his first round and 18-hole scores like that do not come around every day. Kaymer’s 69 on Friday was good enough to maintain his lead in The Players Championship, but 20-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth now lurks just one shot back midway through golf’s “fifth major.”
“I don’t really believe in taking momentum into the next day,” said Kaymer after his round, “because you sleep, you wake up with a different body feel. Everything is a little bit different. Fortunately I’ve shot a few of those rounds in the past and I know the next day is very difficult.” The 29-year-old from Germany had five birdies and two bogeys over his second round of the tournament and is now 12-under par, one shot better than Spieth, with whom he will be paired for the third round on Saturday.
For Spieth at The Players Championship it has been two days of consistent golf, firing 66 on Friday to go with his opening round of 67. Both rounds were bogey-free, with five birdies on Thursday and six birdies in round two. “I felt like today was one of the best ball-striking days I’ve had in a long time,’ said Spieth, “I drove the ball a lot better today…and put myself in a lot of great positions to make birdies. It was very stress-free, and I’d like to have a round like that the next two days.”
At the midway point of The Players Championship, Kaymer and Spieth are threatening to make it a two-man race. The next closest on the leaderboard is Russell Henley at 8-under par. He followed up his opening round 65 with a 1-under 71 on Friday. Jim Furyk heads an all-star list tied for fourth at 6-under. The group also includes three Europeans; Sergio Garcia from Spain and Justin Rose and Lee Westwood from England. There is a big group of 10 golfers at 5-under par, seven shots behind.
Perhaps the second biggest story of The Players Championship is the players who did not make the cut this year. Some of the big names who will not be playing on the weekend include Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson finished at 1-over par, and missed the cut by one shot. It is the second straight year he has missed the cut at this tournament. It was a double disappointment for Mickelson, as he was anxious to see how his game had progressed after missing the cut at the Masters a month ago. After his round, “Lefty” said he did not know what to say, “I don’t feel bad about the game, but mentally I’m just really soft right now. I’m having a hard time focusing on the shot, I’m having a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole, but the physical game isn’t bad.” He will play next in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament at the end of May.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky