Martin Kaymer is lapping the field at The Players Championship, backing up his course-record opening round of 63 with 69 on Friday to get in the clubhouse at 12-under. He's five shots clear of Kevin Chappell and Russell Henley, and with the winds picking up a bit at TPC Sawgrass, it will be a shock if he doesn't go to bed on the 36-hole lead.
Kaymer didn't move through the Pete Dye layout flawlessly again, making two bogeys. But he did stay under par on each nine and extended the margin, so it was a second straight successful day at the season's fifth major. His driving accuracy and GIR stats on Thursday were incredible, and those regressed significantly, but he managed to scramble through the tougher conditions for the 3-under round. Kaymer said he "kept himself in the tournament" (that's a bit of an understatement) with two up-and-downs and managing to stay together in the wind and with tougher pin placements.
The former world No. 1 added two red numbers in his final four holes to really make a round of it. At the island hole, the par-3 17th, Kaymer dropped his approach shot right on top of the back-middle pin location. He'd clean up a 5-footer to get to 12-under, and set the bar pretty high for that loaded group of chasers playing in the afternoon wave.
Kevin Chappell/Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox
Chappell had a chance to match Kaymer's one-day old record of 29 on either nine-holes at Sawgrass, but a bogey at the difficult 18th resulted in an outward 31. That's still a ridiculous number, and at the moment, he's jumped 66 spots up the leaderboard into the tie for second. He's added three birdies in his first four holes on his second nine, so Kaymer's margin could shrink soon with a couple more birdie opportunities coming up for Chappell.
The wind is definitely picking up so a number like Chappell is posting is probably not available for the afternoon tee times. Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose are just some of the big names in that group at 5-under. Phil Mickelson is just trying to get to the weekend at this point, needing to make a move from his position at 3-over into red figures.
The largest midpoint lead in this event is three shots, held by Lanny Wadkins and Greg Norman, who both went on to win. Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard with the morning wave wrapping up:
|T2||Kevin Chappell||-7||14 *|
|T2||Russell Henley||-7||1:18 pm *|
|T4||Jim Furyk||-6||16 *|
|T4||Lee Westwood||-6||1 *|
|T4||Brian Stuard||-6||1 *|
|T8||Brian Davis||-5||F *|
|T8||Gary Woodland||-5||1:28 pm *|
|T8||Jordan Spieth||-5||1:28 PM|
|T8||Scott Stallings||-5||1:39 pm *|
|T8||Justin Rose||-5||1:39 PM|
|T8||Sergio Garcia||-5||1:49 PM|
|T16||Sang-Moon Bae||-4||14 *|
|T16||George McNeill||-4||14 *|
|T16||Freddie Jacobson||-4||14 *|
|T16||Scott Brown||-4||1:49 pm *|
|T16||Ernie Els||-4||1:49 pm *|
|T16||Dustin Johnson||-4||1:49 PM|
|T23||Hideki Matsuyama||-3||F *|
|T23||Pat Perez||-3||F *|
|T23||Justin Leonard||-3||F *|
|T23||John Huh||-3||F *|
|T23||Henrik Stenson||-3||17 *|
|T23||David Hearn||-3||13 *|