Day two of the Players Championship at Sawgrass in Florida was shortened by storms, and the top three players in the world saw divergent results.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm withdrew due to a sickness, and Rory McIlroy, who is ranked third, appears to be out of the running.
With eight holes remaining, McIlroy is six over while playing partner Scottie Scheffler is five under and one stroke behind Ben Griffin, the clubhouse leader.
Adam Svensson and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are tied for first place with eight under.
Bezuidenhout from South Africa has completed 14 holes, compared to Svensson from Canada who has finished 11. On Saturday at 7:00 (12:00 GMT), round two will resume.
Leaderboard for the Players Championship
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The Northern Irishman struggled to a four-over-par 76 in round one, and in the 10 holes he played on Friday, he did little to increase his chances of making the final two rounds.
The lowest point came on the par-four sixth hole, where a 43-foot birdie attempt was twice as far off the front of the green, leading to a double-bogey six.
The top 65 players and ties will play the final two rounds, with the cut expected to occur at one or two over par.
Scheffler, on the other hand, presented a more composed image as he increased his overall score to five under thanks to back-to-back birdies on the ninth and 10th holes.
Rahm, who shot a one-under 71 on Thursday before withdrawing on Friday, would lose his top ranking if Scheffler were to win the $25 million (£21 million) contest.
Given that they had all won this year and briefly held the top spot in the global rankings, Rahm, Scheffler, and McIlroy were the focus of the week’s build-up, but wonderful stories are also surfacing from other places.
Clubhouse leader Griffin gave up golf two years ago to pursue a career in the residential mortgage sector.
“Having a break has provided me with a wonderful perspective,” he said after signing for a one-under-par 71 on Friday.
He lost two strokes at the 18th after being at eight under par. Griffin hit his tee shot way right into rough, cannoned his second off a tree, then played his third beyond the green, necessitating a chip and two putts from there out of fear of the massive lake that dominates the left side of the fairway.
Both Collin Morikawa, a two-time major champion, and Min Woo Lee of Australia are at six under with three holes left.
Jason Day, a 2016 Players champion and another Australian whose career has been marred by back issues, recorded a second-round score of 70 to finish on four under. He is standing next to Viktor Hovland of Norway, who reached eight under after 11 holes but lost four strokes over the next six.
Unstable overnight leader
In his first round at The Players, American Chad Ramey produced a remarkable bogey-free 64 to take the lead.
The 30-year-old, who is playing on the PGA Tour for the second time, achieved 10 under par after making birdies on holes 11 and 12, his second and third of round two. When he came at the renowned par-three 17th, he held a two-shot lead over the pack despite giving one shot back at the 13th.
After two balls in the water, a quadruple-bogey seven was recorded on the scorecard. He missed another shot on the first before the storm horn gave him a much-needed reprieve, but a 30-foot putt saved his par on the 18th.
in the running are Englishmen
The top Englishman is 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett. With four holes remaining, the 35-year-old is three under par and is in good shape to make the first cut on his sixth trip at the Players.
With a 69 that brought him to two under, rookie Aaron Rai, who will return early on Saturday to finish his rounds, will undoubtedly play the final two holes. Justin Rose and Tyrrell Hatton also have two under scores and will also play in the next two rounds.
Despite shooting a respectable 71 in round two, last year’s US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick appears to be heading home on three over. Tommy Fleetwood (even) and Callum Tarren (two over) have five holes left to ensure they stay in the tournament.
Russell Knox and Martin Laird, a Scottish duo, are unquestionably out. Knox fired a 77 and finished eight over par, while Laird shot an 81 and was 13 over par. Knox recorded two triple bogeys in his round.
Spieth saves the round while Thomas waits by sheer luck
Jordan Spieth, a three-time major winner, has missed the cut on five of his previous eight occasions at the Players, and he appeared to be leaving the tournament early once more until an unbelievable stroke of luck on the par-five ninth hole, which was his final round of the round.
He sliced his drive so far right that he asked his caddie “is it out of play” as it headed towards water. Spieth’s shot struck a spectator on the knee and ricocheted back onto the fairway before Michael Greller could respond. By placing his second shot just off the green and chipping in for an eagle, the American capitalized on the situation.
He went from being two over par to being level par and certain of playing the last two rounds.
Justin Thomas, his playing partner and close friend, must wait to see how Saturday morning turns out. The 2021 Players champion finished on two over par and in a big group in equal 68th place despite making a 16-foot birdie try on the ninth.