Holmes, Stanley used birdies at No. 17 to tie for Players lead

Taylor Byrd
May 14, 2017

Six players - including Jon Rahm of Spain (72), former US Open champion Webb Simpson (69), Brendan Steele (71) and England's Paul Casey (69) - are another stroke back at 140 and tied for 10th.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. "For a professional, this is definitely one of the courses that you try and up your game and just give it that little bit more for the week and try and win the championship".

Kyle Stanley and Louis Oosthuizen have a two-shot lead on the field at 9 under entering the weekend at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Stanley had eight birdies as the wind increased and the firm putting surfaces became crusty.

American J.B. Holmes is alone in third after shooting a three-under 69.

Among the others at 144 are Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain (71), Justin Thomas (71) and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (71). "Nothing really fazes him and there's a lot of depth behind too".

"This is a really tough golf course".

Jordan Spieth failed to make the cut.

It means there's an enthralling weekend in store from TPC Sawgrass, as the game's best go in search of golf's "fifth major" title.

The cut was at 2-over 146, and there will be another cut Saturday because more than 78 players advanced to the weekend.

"It doesn't seem to favor experience or newbies, because it requires extreme accuracy off the tee, and then from there taking the right chances where you feel like you have good (yardage) numbers or you can take chances, " Spieth said earlier this week. "A lot of golf to be played around this course, and as we've seen the last two days, you can easily make a mistake".

Yes, there were plenty of those.

Anirban Lahiri looked like a lock to at least make the cut until he hit three shots into the water on the 18th and took a 10. "Playing out of the final twosome, he got off to a patchy start, sandwiching birdie-4 at two with bogeys at holes 1 (3-putt from 47'4"), 3 and 4 (3-putt from 56'8"). It still hopped hard at the back of the green and went into the water, leading to a double bogey. The world number 42 made seven birdies before a bogey on the 18th left him on four under.

"If you can help me there, it would be great", Oosthuizen said.

Defending champion Jason Day, chasing his first win since his four-shot triumph at Sawgrass 12 months ago, fired an erratic 72 to remain on two under alongside the likes of Henrik Stenson (70) and Phil Mickelson (72). He was seven back.

Danny Willett withdrew after nine holes Friday due to a bad back.

Louis Oosthuizen (-8) - Oosthuizen, victor of the 2010 British Open, just couldn't get anything going Saturday, but that is okay because he is still just one shot back. He managed to play a low punch shot with a draw, and it ran up to about 5 feet for a birdie. One of those birdies came on the 12th when he nailed a 34-foot putt. On Thursday, the Stadium Course played 1.27 strokes easier (72.22-73.49) than in the afternoon wave. "But it's nice to be playing well again, I've been hitting the ball pretty good, so it's good to do it at home". You know, so it's something I don't really want to think about, but you do now and then think about it.

And it showed that Oosthuizen and Stanley were at their best.

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