Cejka in control at Sawgrass
Germany’s Alex Cejka holds the halfway lead from England’s Ian Poulter at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
Germany’s Alex Cejka holds the halfway lead from England’s Ian Poulter at TPC Sawgrass after a good second round for the Europeans at The Players Championship.
Cejka, still searching for his maiden PGA Tour victory after playing full time in the United States since 2003, began the day at six under par, a shot behind overnight leader Ben Crane.
The 39-year-old quickly moved past his American rival on the par-72, 7,215-yard Players Stadium Course with three birdies in a row between the second and fourth holes and went on to shoot a 67, 11-under for the tournament and four shots clear of the field despite needing an epidural injection to ease some pain in his neck.
“I had a pinched nerve and I had a numb arm for three weeks,” Cejka said. “So they had to go in there and put some cortisone shot in the nerve, so it’s healing better.
“It’s still not 100% but I can feel my hand, so that’s a good sign.”
Poulter is lying two shots back in second place following a four-under-par 68, the Ryder Cup player compiling a round of five birdies and one bogey having started the day at five-under. Poulter is still searching for his first win in the US, and credits his recent form to hard work, and the fact that he is still relatively fresh this season.
“I felt it’s been coming, but I’ve been making too many mistakes on the golf course,” he said. “Having a bit more time off, having time to practice more, having a bit more time to get prepared to play, hopefully I’ve done enough thinking and enough practicing where I’m not going to make as many mistakes as I have made.”
Americans Kevin Na, John Mallinger and Jason Dufner were in the clubhouse on seven-under after a 66, 71 and 70 respectively while David Toms shot a 70 to join them and Masters champion Angel Cabrera shot a 65 that also took him to four shots behind Cejka.
Henrik Stenson also finished on seven-under with a 69, and the Swede is buckling down for the weekend ahead knowing he is in contention.
“It’s a course that I really like, everything except 8, I think, which I think is a bit too long,” he said. “It’s a great golf course, and it’s in great condition. I think it’s going to firm up over the weekend. It’s going to be hard to get close to the pins, and you’ve just got to have a ton of patience and keep plodding away – give yourself chances.”
Crane briefly stayed in touch with fellow early starter Cejka but a double bogey at the par-four 18th left him with a 73, taking him back to six-under in a group also including another Swede, Richard S Johnson.
Camilo Villegas of Colombia had got to seven-under before a double bogey at the par-five 16th led to a level-par 73, five-under at the halfway stage, and England’s Paul Casey will also start the third round at five-under following a 69 that consisted of five birdies and two bogeys.
Sweden’s Daniel Chopra staged a remarkable comeback from an opening-round 75 to shoot a 65 and end the day at four under alongside Englishman Brian Davis, following a 71, and world number one Tiger Woods of the USA, who shot a 69.
Justin Rose had got to six under for the week with five to play before a double bogey and bogey sent him back to three under following a 71.
Scotland’s Martin Laird made it into the weekend with a level-par round of 72 that kept him at one under for the tournament while defending champion Sergio Garcia was at level par following a 73.
Graeme McDowell was struggling over the closing holes, the Northern Irishman falling to one over with bogeys at the 14th and 17th holes before sneaking back to level par with a birdie three at the last.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington posted a second consecutive 72 to remain at level par, which was the projected cut mark, while Phil Mickelson, the 2007 Players champion, needed a birdie at the par-five ninth, his last hole, to reach the clubhouse at level par following a 71.
Despite an eagle at the same hole, 2004 champion Adam Scott could only finish with 74, at one over for the week, but Luke Donald of England did enough on his back nine to sneak into the weekend. Donald had been at three over at the turn but a run of four birdies got him into the weekend and despite a bogey at his 17th hole, he stayed the course for a 70 to end the day at level par.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy had also begun at two over but the 20-year-old shot a 77, finishing with a double bogey at the ninth, to end his week at seven over.
He will now head back to Europe for next week’s 3 Irish Open, as will Englishman Ross Fisher, who finished with a 74 to end his week at four-over.
All the second round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour THE PLAYERS Championship, The TPC at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra, Florida, United States of America.
(USA unless stated, par 72):
133 Alex Cejka (Ger) 66 67
135 Ian Poulter (Eng) 67 68
137 Kevin Na 71 66, Jason Dufner 67 70, David Toms 67 70, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 72 65, John Mallinger 66 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 68 69
138 Richard S Johnson (Swe) 66 72, Ben Crane 65 73, Jeff Overton 71 67, Tim Petrovic 68 70
139 Michael Letzig 71 68, Charley Hoffman 70 69, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 67 72, Paul Casey (Eng) 70 69, Justin Leonard 70 69, Robert Allenby (Aus) 73 66, Camilo Villegas (Col) 67 72, Jonathan Byrd 67 72, Ryan Moore 71 68
140 Brian Davis (Eng) 71 69, Daniel Chopra (Swe) 75 65, Tiger Woods 71 69, Boo Weekley 73 67, Kevin Sutherland 73 67
141 Michael Allen 71 70, Justin Rose (Eng) 70 71, John Senden (Aus) 72 69, Nick O’Hern (Aus) 68 73, Scott Verplank 67 74, Tim Clark (Rsa) 72 69, Stephen Ames (Can) 70 71, Mark Wilson 69 72
142 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 68 74, Steve Stricker 71 71, John Merrick 70 72, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 70 72, Bubba Watson 67 75, Chez Reavie 70 72, Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 71 71, Jim Furyk 68 74, K J Choi (Kor) 73 69, Ernie Els (Rsa) 73 69, Ryuji Imada (Jpn) 72 70, Johnson Wagner 69 73
143 Brad Adamonis 67 76, Rodney Pampling (Aus) 70 73, Zach Johnson 72 71, Jeff Quinney 73 70, Stewart Cink 70 73, Ben Curtis 71 72, Scott Piercy 71 72, Jeff Klauk 71 72, Vijay Singh (Fij) 71 72, Nathan Green (Aus) 74 69, Bob Estes 75 68, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 70 73, Martin Laird (Sco) 71 72, Jason Bohn 72 71
144 Billy Mayfair 70 74, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 71 73, Woody Austin 72 72, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 71 73, Heath Slocum 75 69, Tommy Armour III 74 70, Robert Karlsson (Swe) 74 70, Steve Marino 72 72, Mike Weir (Can) 72 72, Pat Perez 72 72, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 71 73, Steve Flesch 75 69, Matt Kuchar 72 72, Fred Funk 73 71, Phil Mickelson 73 71, Dustin Johnson 72 72, Kenny Perry 73 71, Hunter Mahan 73 71, John Rollins 68 76, Cameron Beckman 72 72, Luke Donald (Eng) 74 70, Rocco Mediate 73 71, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 72 72
——————–The following players failed to make the cut——————
145 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 75, Jerry Kelly 73 72, Bart Bryant 74 71, Adam Scott (Aus) 71 74, Joe Ogilvie 72 73, Will MacKenzie 73 72, George McNeill 70 75, Andres Romero (Arg) 74 71, Ken Duke 70 75, Troy
Rory McIlroy acknowledges dry spell ahead of Zozo Championship
Rory McIlroy sees this weeks’ Zozo Championship as an opportunity to end his win drought and gain some confidence.
Tiger Woods feeling in form as he returns to Sherwood in build-up to Masters
The 44-year-old is happy with his game as Masters season begins in earnest.
Spain’s Adrian Otaegui finishes with a flourish to win Scottish Championship
The Spaniard now has a professional victory in three different formats of the game.
The Rise of Golf: Increasing Popularity of Golf in the US
Golf is played across the US and it’s gaining popularity amongst many Americans.
Matt Wallace reaping rewards from taking pressure off his performances
There are seven British players in the top ten at Fairmont St Andrews.
Adrian Otaegui sets early pace at Scottish Championship
The Spaniard carded a blemish-free 62.
WATCH: Martin Laird emotional after breaking seven-year title drought
Martin Laird gets a little bit choked up as he savours his first win in seven years.