In-form Australian Jason Day fired a second-round 67 to vault up the leaderboard at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, while Tiger Woods sits right on the projected cut line after carding a 71.
Day, a winner last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, fired five birdies in a blemish-free round to sit at eight-under for the championship, two strokes back from co-leaders Charl Schwartzel (66) and Patrick Cantlay (68) in a share of fifth spot midway through day two.
Woods sits at one under after mixing only two birdies with a lone bogey, unable to cash in as he was a bit more consistent off the tee – eight of 14 fairways hit compared to five of 14 in round one – but struggled with his irons and putter. He hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation and but managed only the two birdies.
“I didn’t hit it close enough,” Woods said afterward. “The course could have been had today. It’s so hot, it’s playing short, the greens are receptive.”
As the last of the afternoon wave teed off, the leaders in the clubhouse – Schwartzel and Cantlay – were at 10 under and the cut line sat at one under. But with several players out on the course with a shot at going lower than minus 10, Woods wasn’t assured a spot in rounds three and four in the so-called “fifth major.”
“I was just a touch off today,” he said. “I didn’t make any birdies. I had my chances.”
Starting on hole 10, Woods snapped a string of six consecutive pars with a birdie to move to one under, temporarily manoeuvring his way into red numbers on the par-five 16th hole with a strong recovery from the pine straw for an unconventional four.
He then survived the treacherous island hole at 17 but left his approach on 18 short and in thick rough. He gave back a shot with a closing bogey on the front nine.
Woods birdied the par-three third hole to get back to under par. He burned the edge on a couple of long putts coming in, but remained hopeful of playing on the weekend.
Not so with playing partners Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
Mickelson, who carded a disastrous 79 on Thursday, was nine over for the tournament at the turn and clawed back only a stroke on his second nine. Only two players in the 143-man field had worse scores than his 79-73.
Fowler, rounding out the group, was cruising at five under for the day on his second nine when he lost his tee ball up in the canopy of trees on hole six and took a double bogey.
Unnerved, he followed with another double on the seventh, his 16th hole of the day, and fell to one under. That put Fowler at one over for the tournament after shooting a two-over 74 on Thursday, leaving him outside the cut line.
Midway through Friday, Schwartzel – six under on Friday – and Cantlay – four under – had posted their scores to go to 10 under after 36 holes. Chesson Hadley was a shot back at minus nine, followed by Day, Steve Stricker and Xander Schauffele at eight under midway through.