Putting practice paying off for Oosthuizen, Stanley

PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Florida) • Sweet-swinging South African Louis Oosthuizen and American journeyman Kyle Stanley wielded hot putters to share the halfway lead at The Players Championship on Friday as Vijay Singh turned back the clock to move within three strokes of the leaders.

Oosthuizen matched Stanley for the best round of the day, six-under-par 66 at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida. They were at nine-under 135, two strokes ahead of American J.B. Holmes on a day when the top four on the leaderboard played in the more amenable afternoon conditions.

Many of the big names have work to do, defending champion Jason Day trailing by seven shots, with Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy nine behind.

"I've been playing well for a while now," Oosthuizen said, happy to reap reward for his recent focus on putting. "I'm rolling the ball really nicely and feel really confident on the greens."

Apart from winning the 2010 British Open by seven strokes, the 34-year-old lost two Majors via play-offs - the 2012 Masters and the 2015 British Open.

Stanley notched his lone PGA Tour victory in Phoenix in 2012.

  • THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

  • 2ND ROUND (Selected, USA unless stated)

    135 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 69 66, Kyle Stanley 69 66

  • 137 J.B. Holmes 68 69

  • 138 Vijay Singh (Fij) 70 68

  • 139 David Hearn (Can) 70 69,
    Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp) 69 70,
    Patrick Cantlay 69 70,
    Alex Noren (Swe) 68 71,
    Ian Poulter (Eng) 72 67

  • 142 Adam Scott (Aus) 70 72,
    Henrik Stenson (Swe) 72 70,
    Jason Day (Aus) 70 72,
    Phil Mickelson 70 72

  • 143 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 72 71

  • 144 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 73 71,
    Dustin Johnson 71 73,
    Rory McIlroy (Nir) 73 71,
    Rickie Fowler 70 74

    REUTERS

"My putting has been a little bit inconsistent, but from a ball-striking standpoint, I'm not really sure I can ask much more out of what I've been doing this year," he said, whose putting this week has benefited from a posture adjustment.

Lurking close was 54-year-old Singh, who despite a few strands of grey hair is not out of place against men half his age.

"I haven't won in donkey's years but I think I still can compete out here, and as long as I think I can compete, I'll play here," said the three-time Major winner, who lives near the course and is a constant presence at the driving range.

Vijay has not triumphed on the PGA Tour since 2008, but hope springs eternal. "If you think you're coming out here just to make the numbers, you'd better stay home," he said after carding a 68.

If the Fijian wins this week, he would become the oldest player to do so on the PGA Tour. Sam Snead owns the record at 52 years old.

Players who didn't make the cut included world No. 5 Jordan Spieth, who finished at two-over 146, American Jim Furyk, and Ernie Els of South Africa.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'Putting practice paying off for Oosthuizen, Stanley'. Print Edition | Subscribe