Lee Westwood took the lead midway in The Players Championship in Florida as its decision to the richest golf event back in its dividend schedule.
number one in Europe, which has been part of Sawgrass field only three times in the last seven years, added a sparkling 65 to his opening 67, 12 in total half way on par with 132, which had only two Tournament was Greg Norman.
With Phil Mickelson, the man who pushed him into second place in the Masters, and the world number one Tiger Woods only three under and not the leader of 40 years, Westwood now seems a good bet for their first win in the U.S. since 1998.
Nor is it under threat Westwood Quail Hollow last week’s winner Rory McIlroy and three-time winner Padraig Harrington. Both led a more.
A first prize of over £ 1. 1 million on offer this weekend and the second day ended with a Westwood ahead of Italian Francesco Molinari, Japan Ryuji Imada and American Heath Slocum – not a trio that strike fear into the number four in the world.
The Worksop golfer, who finished third, third and second in the last three races, said: “I keep coming back. Do not hit me – I’m not going to disappear.
“I will keep trying until one of them is going my way.”
No players the rate of “unofficial” fifth major, but said: “A win here would be very important.
“You get that kind of tingle when getting close.”
He did not play last year, however, I did not want another trip to the States after playing in Korea before.
This time heated in North Carolina after taking a share of third place on the opening day intensified the pace with an eagle and six birdies.
The eagle came with a brilliant drive and five-iron to three feet on the 16th, the hole where he had been in the water for a bogey six on his last visit.
Molinari, who chose the event in front of his home Italian Open, matched Westwood 65, while Imada and Slocum shot 66.
Woods, who missed the cut by eight shots last week, hit ugly in the units of the 11th and 14th and dropped three strokes on them, but also had four birdies in a stretch of six holes weird.
Three Under the change he hopes to recover ground lost over the first nine holes, but could not make any progress so it will begin its third round nine adrift.
At least he would have stayed around 36 holes, however, and avoided what would have been a second successive early exit for the first time in his career.
“I was not so strong,” he said after what was only his eighth round since the sex scandal that sent him into hiding in November.
“It remains a process. The three wood, 14 (in water) I tried to stop, but I got to the point where I could not.
“I felt like I putt better, but unfortunately I was a little too far from the holes.”
McIlroy missed the cut in his debut last year and said that after a 72 for once: “You can not see streets when you’re on the tee and it is difficult to align.”
The event is held on the same course each year and when reminded that it would be better used to it now in the world of 10 to 21 years in Northern Ireland said: “If there was a 9 1 / 2 million dollars if you do not have that.”
Harrington ran up a double bogey at the sixth – 15 – when his shot from a bunker over on top of a palm tree and could not be identified.
That said, the Dubliner said: “A three-putt at the 11th (for a couple) has cost me dearly. Things have not gone my way, I have not played fantastic.”
Mickelson, needing a victory with Woods out of the top five to take the number one spot for the first time, also took six on the 11th and his only birdies came on 10 and 16.
Luke Donald followed his 67 with a 69 to joint sixth in eight under, while fellow Northern Irishman McIlroy Graeme McDowell was one of 65 with a magnificent and it rose to seven o’clock and joint tenth.
Oliver Wilson (70) is four under but Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Brian Davis was eliminated at the very end of the day in an American virtue when John Merrick birdied the last.
Ross Fisher and Justin Rose both bogeyed the last couple of levels, with Greg Owen in the same brand.
He paid the price for seven in 17 short in the first round, while Scot Martin Laird out in four more.