The action is certainly heating up at THE PLAYERS Championship and while it may not technically be a major, it is one of the most important tournaments on the calendar. It is affectionately known as the fifth major, so that should tell you all you need to know about how much it means to the golfers to have success at TPC Sawgrass.
Through parts of two days' worth of action, the leaderboard is already in turmoil and it truly is anyone's tournament. There are several intriguing players who made a strong run in the second round, though, so it should be a highly competitive weekend as there are players throughout the field who have the ability to win this thing.
Here are three players who had excellent second-round performances and will be in the thick of things on Sunday.
Luke Donald has been trading the top ranking in the world with Rory McIlroy over the past several weeks, but with McIlroy missing the cut, Donald has a golden opportunity to take it back yet again. The Englishman was just average in the first round as he shot even par, but he played much better in the second round with a three-under 69. He is very much in the hunt.
Few players have a more well-rounded skill set than Donald, and that bodes well for his chances this weekend. Donald doesn't always put his best foot forward in big tournaments, but now that he has effectively bounced back from a pedestrian first round, I love his chances to make some noise. Donald is still searching for a career-defining win, and a victory at THE PLAYERS could be precisely that.
Since winning the PGA Championship in 2010, things have been pretty up and down for Martin Kaymer, but there is no doubt that the 27-year-old German is one of the most talented players on tour. Things weren't looking particularly good for Kaymer after shooting one-over par in the first round on Thursday, but he was much better on Friday as well with a three-under 69 and could be an under-the-radar contender.
Kaymer will obviously have a lot of work ahead of him this weekend if he wants to get up near the leaders, but if he can replicate his second round a couple more times, then it is most definitely a possibility. Kaymer clearly needs something to kick-start his career because he simply hasn't been the same since his big victory at the PGA. Winning THE PLAYERS would be nearly as important.
Like countryman Luke Donald, Lee Westwood is another one of those players who is trying to shake the label of "best golfer without a major." Obviously winning THE PLAYERS Championship wouldn't constitute winning a major, but it would be awfully close to bringing Westwood one step closer to achieving that goal. He has been finishing second or third in every major and is just knocking on the doorstep of a big win.
Westwood has played a very consistent game so far this week as he supplemented a tidy one-under score in the first round with a two-under second round. Westwood is a guy who has all the tools to be one of the greats and he is in contention pretty much every week, but when push comes to shove, he struggles. Perhaps coming from behind a bit will calm his nerves, though, and allow him to triumph.