Conditions were near perfect Friday morning at TPC Sawgrass, yet the fireworks did not start until the afternoon. Among the group to tee off well after the sun came up were Louis Oosthuizen and Kyle Stanley, who are tied for the Players Championship lead at nine-under.
Despite firm, fast and breezy conditions, both players carded six-under 66s, the two low rounds of the day. Stanley, 29, had eight birdies, the most he’s had in one round in his career. The best stretch came on the back nine (his front), where he had three consecutive birdies on the 15th, 16th, and 17th holes. It’s only his fourth appearance at the Players, his best finish coming in 2013 at T-33.
Oosthuizen, 34, had three birdies on each side, highlighted by his final two on the fifth and ninth holes. The 2010 British Open champion has one of the prettiest swings on tour, and once he gets the putter going he’s likely to go low. So it was that on the par-4 fifth, the South African had a 22-foot right-to-left swinger that was never in doubt. His final hole of the day, the par-5 ninth, featured another right-to-left breaker from 19 feet that was hit perfectly again.
J.B. Holmes continues his solid play of late, but won’t be thrilled with how he finished. He made his way to the eighth tee (his 17th hole) tied for the lead at nine-under, but consecutive bogeys brought him back to seven-under. His three-under 69 was good enough for solo third after 36 holes.
The surprise of the day came from 54-year-old Vijay Singh, who carded a phenomenal four-under 68. It’s a home game for the Fijian, who can often be found smashing balls for hours on the range at TPC Sawgrass. The winner of 34 PGA Tour events was bogey-free through 17 holes, but finally flinched on the 18th. He’s at six-under, just three back heading into the weekend.