PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — David Toms quit trying to be perfect on a TPC Sawgrass course that appears to demand it. It led to nearly perfect play over two days at The Players Championship and a one-shot lead over Nick Watney going into the weekend.
Toms went 25 holes before making a bogey Friday and countered with enough good shots for a 4-under 68, surprising only because he has missed the cut more than half of the times he has played in his nearly two decades at this event.
Watney did his best to catch him.
He started the back nine with back-to-back birdies, then gave himself a chance on every hole. Watney missed four birdie putts inside 12 feet over his last seven holes, settling for 71 after opening with a 64.
Toms was at 10-under 134, leading a quality list of contenders at the biggest event of golf’s strongest tour. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, who had missed three of his last four cuts on the PGA Tour, finally got back on track with a 69 that left him two shots out of the lead, along with Steve Stricker, who made five birdies on the back nine for a 67. Luke Donand (67) and former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, the winner last week at Quail Hollow who traded birdies with bogeys for a 71, also were at 8-under 136.
Donald can go to No. 1 in the world with a victory. He has only been out of the top 10 once since last September. Perhaps even more impressive this week is that Donald became the first player since 2004 to make it around Sawgrass without a bogey for the open 36 holes.