Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk and Others Challenge Martin Kaymer at the Players

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IMay 9, 2014

Jordan Spieth, one back at The Players
Jordan Spieth, one back at The PlayersKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“Anyone in the field can shoot nine-under, 10-under par, what I’ve done yesterday,” Martin Kaymer said after putting up a 12-under par total. “It’s still very open.” 

While 10-under is unlikely and nine-under is rare, he’s right to take that approach. Yesterday’s score is yesterday’s score, and there are plenty of golfers doing their best to unseat him, including Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Lee Westwood and more than 70 others.

The Friday afternoon groups battled windier conditions than those who played Thursday afternoon, and a 66 by Spieth was the best round of the day. He had birdie putts at the last three holes to tie Kaymer. However, he finished at 11-under, one behind the leader.

 “I saw he was at 12,” Spieth said after his pre-round warm-up. “ I didn’t think it would be possible in the afternoon to catch that.” However, he nearly did.

He said if he could duplicate the first two rounds, he would be happy with that

“It’s a great golf course,” he added. “I’m excited for what the weekend’s going to hold with the firmer conditions.”

Jim Furyk, playing resurgent golf, finished in the morning wave and is tied for fourth, six back of the lead. In the past, he admitted he has not enjoyed the Stadium Course.

“I’ve had the golf course figured out for a long time. I just haven’t played particularly well,” he said. “You’d think that it would be a golf course that would suit my game. It’s not power dominated; it’s more about placing the ball in the right places. It just has an extremely awkward look to me.”

Improvement in his play, he said, is due to a change in attitude. He said golf had become a job.

“I told myself I’d quit if I ever got to that point, so I had to figure out a way to make it fun again and to enjoy what I do,” he explained. He hated leaving home and missing family activities. “When I was 22, golf was pretty much the most important thing in my life, and now that I’m going to be 44 soon, it’s really not up there in the top three if that makes sense.” 

After a first-round 67, Lee Westwood shot 71 and inched up to tie Furyk and others at six-under. 

“Obviously in the afternoon it’s a little bit trickier than in the morning,” he said. “The greens aren’t quite as good. A couple of putts I hit today wobbled around a little bit, but that’s to be expected in the afternoon.” 

Westwood said he has always been a fan of the golf course. 

“The first time I came here was the late ‘90s and loved it then,” he said. “There isn’t a hole out there that’s one that you can play brain dead. You’ve got to focus, and it gets your full attention from the word go.”  

Westwood skipped the event a couple of times due to what he called scheduling conflicts. Long a successful player on the European Tour before taking up a PGA Tour card, Westwood has 41 worldwide victories and would love to add another one this week.


Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.