Round 2 of the 2014 Players Championship ended just as Round 1 did: with Martin Kaymer sitting atop the leaderboard.
On Thursday, the 61st-best player on the PGA Tour got off to a blistering start. His nine-under 63 set him up beautifully for the rest of the tournament and tied a course record:
Although Kaymer failed to replicate that opening-round brilliance, he did enough to keep his lead over Jordan Spieth. After a three-under 69 in Round 2, he holds a one-shot advantage.
His 12 under after two rounds is tied for the second-best 36-hole score in TPC history. Kaymer is in good company, with all of the other golfers on the list having been ranked No. 1 in the world at some point, per ESPN Stats and Info's Justin Ray:
Low 36 hole scores at TPC, all-time: Norman -14, Kaymer -12, Price -12, Westwood -12. All were world no. 1 during careers at some point.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) May 9, 2014
Kaymer was among the early groups to tee off on Friday, meaning he was in the clubhouse for a little bit while Spieth, Gary Woodland, Geoff Ogilvy and Russell Henley attempted to gain either a share or outright ownership of the lead.
Despite that, he remained nonplussed about it all, per GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel:
Martin Kaymer on what he'll do between now and tomorrow's round: "Watch some golf." Hey, guess we have something in common.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) May 9, 2014
Spieth made things interesting late in the day. With birdies on 11, 13 and 14, he looked as if he may overtake Kaymer. However, Spieth ended his round with four straight birdies to finish at 11 under for the tournament.
Still, as Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman pointed out, he did well to take a large chunk out of Kaymer's lead:
Jordan Spieth shoots 66, cuts Martin Kaymer's 5 stroke lead to 1 entering the weekend. This is Spieth's first Players.— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) May 9, 2014
Also, Spieth makes me feel like I've done nothing with my life:
I asked Jordan Spieth to give me a reason to believe he's really 20 yrs old. He said "my mom still does my laundry between tour stops."— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) May 9, 2014
While the 20-year-old could be happy with his Round 2, the same couldn't be said of Henley.
With a seven-under 65 in the first round, Henley was in a great position to try to make a move on Kaymer. However, he kept taking one step forward and then one step back. Right when Henley would get under par, a bogey or two would undo his good work.
A birdie on No. 9 did allow Henley to end the day well, finishing one under and eight under for the tournament.
Sobel tweeted out what seems to be the general narrative for Henley. He can have his incredible rounds, but he can have his really mediocre rounds. Thursday was the incredible; Friday was the mediocre:
Russell Henley shoots 65. One player told me: "His average is just average, but his good is really, really good." When he's on, watch out.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) May 8, 2014
At four strokes back, he's not completely out of it, but he'll need to perform a little better than he did on Friday. There's no doubt, though, that Henley will have to regain his form from Round 1.
Jim Furyk, Brian Davis and Charl Schwartzel will also be among the group of golfers to watch on Saturday. They performed very well on Friday and moved themselves into solid positions. Furyk is six strokes back of Kaymer, while Davis and Schwartzel are each five strokes back.
If they carry over their Round 2 play into Round 3, making up that gap won't be a problem.
As good as Spieth and Kaymer have been, though, the Players Championship might turn into a two-horse race. And who doesn't love and Old West shootout?