Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Golf

Martin Kaymer takes one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth at Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth are having a blast at the Players Championship, one because he's playing good golf again, the other because that's all he's been doing.

Kaymer followed his record-tying 63 on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass with 3-under 69, capping his round by hitting a pitching wedge to 3 feet on an island green with a back pin on the 17th hole.

He had a one-shot lead over Spieth going into the weekend as he tries to end more than two years without a victory. "Everything is coming together nicely," said Kaymer, 29, the 2010 PGA Championship winner and former world No. 1.

Spieth, in his first big tournament since his runnerup finish at the Masters last month, hasn't shown any signs of a letdown. He pieced together another bogey-free round and converted pure swings into tap-in birdies on consecutive holes on the back nine that carried him to 66.

"I don't think it's going to be possible to stay bogey-free for two more rounds with the greens firming up," Spieth said, not sounding like someone making his Players debut. "That's a nice goal to have, I think. When bogeys come, it's going to be how I rebound."

Kaymer was at 12-under 132. That matched the best 36-hole score on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in 20 years, dating to Greg Norman's record-setting performance. Norman made only one bogey that week.

Spieth hasn't made a bogey all week — he has gone 51 holes without a bogey, going back to the third round at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head last month — though he had to make a couple of tough chips look easy to keep a clean card.

The 20-year-old Texan was still on the practice range when he saw Kaymer finish at 12 under, a score that felt impossible to catch in warm, blustery weather. The grass remained soft on the course, however, allowing players to take aim at the flags.

Some had no choice.

Adam Scott, in his first tournament as a married man, kept alive his hopes of going to No. 1 in the world with three birdies in his last four holes for 67. That was a 10-shot improvement from Thursday and enabled him to make the cut on the number at par 144.

Rory McIlroy shot 42 on the front nine and appeared headed home early until making birdie on the 18th hole to salvage 74 to make the cut. Not so fortunate was Phil Mickelson. He missed his birdie attempt on No. 18 and shot 70 to miss by one. Mickelson has missed the cut in the two biggest events of the year to date, the Masters and the Players.

Scott told the Australian Associated Press on Friday he married longtime girlfriend Marie Kojzar on April 17, four days after the Masters. Scott said there was no official engagement. Only a few friends and family attended a private ceremony at Scott's home in the Bahamas.

Kojzar is a 32-year-old Swedish architect. They had split up years ago, and only after Scott won the Masters last year did he reveal they were back together.

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