Sergio Garcia will take a one-shot leading going in Thursday's third round at TPC Sawgrass. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Three former champions are among the top five players on the leaderboard at the midway point of the THE PLAYERS Championship.
Sergio Garcia fired a second-round 7-under 65 to grab sole possession of the lead by one stroke over Tiger Woods, who shot a 67. Garcia, who won the 2008 PLAYERS and finished second the previous year, is 11 under. Woods is the 2001 PLAYERS champ, winning a year after he finished second, as well.
Henrik Stenson, who won the 2009 PLAYERS, is among three players tied at 9 under after chipping in for an eagle at the ninth hole, his last of the day. Also at that number are Lee Westwood, who has yet to make a bogey this week, and Kevin Chappell.
"So far right now we've seen some guys who have had some success in the past," Woods said, "but it's still stacked up with so many guys with a chance going into the weekend."
Garcia is hoping to call upon the good vibes he used in winning five years ago. He'll be playing with Woods in Saturday's final twosome.
"Obviously the shots I hit that year, they can give me a good thought," he said. "But it's a different tournament. So we'll see if we can manage to do something similar."
Defending champion Matt Kuchar surged into contention with a 66 on Friday, as well. He's 7 under and tied with recent Masters champ, Adam Scott, who won THE PLAYERS in 2004; Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson and PLAYERS rookie David Lingmerth. Scott shot 68, Mahan 70, Johnson 71 and Lingmerth 67.
Ryan Palmer, who is playing with a heavy heart after a close friend was killed in an auto accident on Thursday, is at 8 under after shooting a 69. He is tied with Web.com Tour Player of the Year Casey Wittenberg, who also had a 69 in the second round.
The cut came at even par with 77 players surviving to play the weekend
Notables who missed the cut included Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk (all at 1 over), Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els and Nick Watney (all at 2 over) and Keegan Bradley (3 over).
Although scoring conditions, particularly in the morning, were ideal in the first two rounds, the players expect the course to toughen up for the final 36 holes.
"A bit of breeze and then firming up on the weekend, it might be a tougher golf course tomorrow," Stenson said.