Martin Kaymer, who tied the course record with a 63 in the opening round, maintained a slim lead after the second round of The Players Championship on Friday.
The 29-year-old German shot 3-under 69 at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course to finish at 12-under 132 and enters the weekend with a one-stroke lead over 20-year-old Texan Jordan Spieth.
“Yesterday was just a very special day for me,” Kaymer said. “You have to be careful that you don’t compare yourself. I was six shots worse for the first nine than yesterday. That would be the wrong way to think. It’s a new day and if you are level par or one under after nine holes, it’s still a good score.”
In his first big tournament since he tied for second at the Masters, Spieth had another bogey-free round Friday and shot a 6-under 66.
"Very stress-free," Spieth said. "I'd like to have that the next two days."
A couple top players barely made the weekend.
Rory McIlroy made a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 74. Adam Scott got up-and-down for birdie on his last hole at the par-5 ninth for a 67. Both made the cut on the number.
Adam Scott, in his first tournament as a married man, kept alive his hopes of going to No. 1 in the world this week with three birdies in his last four holes for a 67. That was a 10-shot improvement from Thursday and enabled him to make the cut on the number at even-par 144.
Rory McIlroy shot 42 on the front nine and appeared headed home early until making birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a 74 to make the cut.
Not so fortunate was Phil Mickelson. He missed his birdie attempt on No. 18 and had a 70 to miss by one. Mickelson now has missed the cut in the two biggest events of the year — the Masters and The Players.
"I don't feel bad about the game," Mickelson said. "But mentally, I'm just really soft right now."
Russell Henley didn't make a par over his last six holes — three bogeys, three birdies — for a 71 and was in third place at 8-under 136. Sergio Garcia (71), U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (71), Gary Woodland (71), Lee Westwood (71) and Ponte Vedra Beach resident Jim Furyk (68) were six shots behind.
“It’s a difficult golf course,” Furyk said “It’s playing softer, but it has sharp edges. Every hole can jump up and bite you so you have to be ‘in it’ on every hole.”
Furyk said he is working on a better balance between golf and the rest of his life.
“Right now, I have a good plan,” he said. “It’s working. It was getting to the point that getting in the car to go to a tournament started to feel like work.”