PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth both lowered their expectations at The Players Championship, for different reasons.
Kaymer was coming off a record-tying round on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, becoming only the fourth player to shoot 63 and the first with a 29 on either nine. He has been around long enough to realize that it’s hard to follow such a low round with another one.
“Everybody else thinks you keep going like this and subconsciously, you think you should,” Kaymer said after his 3-under 69 on Friday to take the 36-hole lead. “Fortunately, I shot a few of those rounds in the past that I know that the next day is very difficult. If want to compare myself to yesterday, I think I was six shots worse on the first nine than yesterday. So that would be the wrong way to think.
“You know it’s a new day and new things will happen.”
He likes what is happening at the moment. The former world No. 1 and major champion is winless over the last two years. Every good shot, every good round, every time he sees his name on the leaderboard, his confidence only grows.
Spieth saw Kaymer’s name on the leaderboard at 12-under 132 when the 20-year-old Texan was still on the practice range in a warm wind. He figured that Kaymer couldn’t be caught Friday afternoon, so he aimed for being in range by the end of the second round.
“I didn’t think that was going to be possible in the afternoon to catch that, especially warming up when the wind started picking up,” Spieth said. “Still thought that 3 under was going to be a great score for me. Even par is still a good score. So we got out there and it was playing a little easier than it seemed, and they just kept going for me.”
He had the low score of the second round at 66. He hasn’t made a bogey in 36 holes, even more impressive considering this is his first time at The Players.
Then again, that’s the way golf seems to be going for Spieth at the moment.
He already has been in the hunt going into the weekend at Kapalua and Torrey Pines, at Riviera and most recently at the Masters, where he tied for second.
Spieth is young. This doesn’t get old. Asked he if was getting bored being in contention so much, he smiled and said, “No, because I haven’t won one.”
“You should probably have to win every time in order for it to get boring,” he said. “But not even Tiger gets bored.”
At his age, Spieth still gets most of his experience from watching on television. That’s why he believes The Players is just getting started. The cut was at even-par 144 for the fourth consecutive year at Sawgrass. This is a tournament that allows for good scoring on the weekdays, and seems to get firmer and tougher with each day.
Some players were happy just to see the weekend.
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.
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 Jim Furyk (68) were six shots behind.
Geoff Ogilvy got within four shots of the lead until three straight bogeys. He was in the group at 5-under 139. They were seven shots behind, but this course can produce wild swings in either direction.
For now, the biggest surprise was Scott. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring this week. He said nothing to the media before the tournament started. He said only that he was settled down and happy.
As for the tournament, even though Kaymer and Spieth have created a little separation, the excitement figures to just be getting started.