PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Martin Kaymer treated Friday as if it were a new day. He wound up in a familiar spot with a 3-under 69 that stretched his lead in The Players Championship.
Kaymer rolled in two long birdie putts, made two good par saves and capped off another solid round by taking on the flag at the back of the island green for an easy birdie. He was six shots clear of the early starters.
Kaymer was at 12-under 132, which would match the best 36-hole score on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass dating to 1994.
Jim Furyk had a 68 and was at 6-under 138.
Kaymer opened with a record-tying 63, finishing his first round on the front nine with a 29.
“I think the most important thing is that you lower your expectations,” Kaymer said. “Everybody else thinks you keep going like this, and subconsciously you think you should. I shot a few of those rounds in the past that I know the next day is very difficult. If I want to compare myself to yesterday, I was six shots worse the first nine than yesterday. So that would be the wrong way to think.”
He would have settled for anything around par, maybe even a shot below par. That was never a problem.
Kaymer didn’t the ball as cleanly as he did on Thursday, though his short game bailed him out the few times he missed the green. The 29-year-old German made his first bogey on the tournament with a three-putt on No. 7. He also dropped a shot on the 14th when missing the fairway.
Otherwise, he is looking more like the former world No. 1 who won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010.
“Overall, everything is coming together nicely,” Kaymer said.
Kaymer said he would take it easy the rest of the day, saving energy for what typically is an exhausting weekend at a demanding golf course that offers the richest prize in golf at $10 million and a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, along with three-year exemptions to the Masters and British Open.
Adam Scott was going to spend the afternoon waiting to see if he gets a tee time on the weekend.
Scott made birdie on his final hole for a 5-under 67, leaving him at even-par 77 and at least a chance to make the cut. Scott has not missed a cut in two years, and needs to reach the weekend to have any hope of moving to No. 1 in the world.
Furyk has lived in Ponte Vedra Beach for most of his professional career. He just hasn’t had much success in his hometown event. Furyk has only three finishes in the top 10, and he wasn’t even remotely close to the winner in those years.
“I’ve had the golf course figured out for a long time,” Furyk said. “I just haven’t played particularly well.”
He attributed that to the awkward look off the tee at Pete Dye-designed courses. Even so, he’s in reasonable shape going into the weekend, mainly because he is playing well. While he hasn’t won in more than three years, Furyk is coming off a runner-up finish last week at Quail Hollow.
Bae Sang-Moon, Bill Hass, John Senden, George McNeill and Brian Davis were all at 5-uder 139.
Phil Mickelson opened with a 75 and was among those playing in the afternoon, needing a low score to make the cut. Rory McIlroy was going the wrong direction, already 6 over for his round through seven holes and 4 over for the tournament.
The hardest work for Kaymer was not looking too far ahead. His last victory was a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in the fall of 2011. He spent a year trying to expand the shots he had play — he once only felt comfortable with a fade — because he wanted to become a complete player.
Getting back to No. 1 in the world is the furthest from his mind. He just wants to win. The first step is simply getting into contention. But there was a small measure of satisfaction to get through two rounds at 12-under par.
“When I walked the golf course today, I thought about the same thing — all that work, all the hours,” Kaymer said. “When you’re standing on the range for six, seven hours hitting the same shot, the same drill, you feel like it should be enough. … And it’s a little boring as well. But long term, it will become something good. And obviously, right now it’s paying off quite nicely.”
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