Martin Kaymer of Germany posted a 3-under-par 69, but his lead was reduced to one stroke by Jordan Spieth, who is playing in his first Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
One day after tying the course record with nine birdies in a 63, Kaymer carded five birdies and his first two bogeys of the tournament, but it was good enough as the wind came up and made the course play a little more difficult.
“I didn’t hit as many fairways as yesterday, but I managed my way quite nicely around the golf course, had a couple of nice up‑and‑downs and two longer putts went in,” said Kaymer, the 2010 PGA champion. “So I think I kept it really well together and kept myself in the tournament.
“When you have a special round like that (63), it’s difficult to keep playing that way. It was a little more difficult today, but I scrambled pretty well at times and I think 69 is a very good score.”
Spieth, the 20-year-old rising star, followed his opening 67 with a bogey-free 66 by carding three birdies on each nine as the wind came up and made conditions more difficult in the afternoon.
That didn’t faze him.
“When I was warming up, you could see the wind picking up, and I was thinking that even-par would be a good score,” said Spieth, whose only victory came in the 2013 John Deere Classic, even though he has been close several other times, including a tie for second in the Masters last month.
“I’m very happy with my ball-striking from tee-to-green and I made a lot of putts to keep things going. And I’m comfortable on this Bermuda grass because I grew up on it, so when I missed the green, I was able to get up-and down.”
Russell Henley, who has won on the PGA Tour each of the last two years, posted a 71 to follow his opening 65 and was four strokes back in third.
Jim Furyk, who has 16 victories on the PGA Tour but none since the 2010 Transitions Championship, shot 68 and was six shots behind in a tie for fourth with Lee Westwood of England, Gary Woodland, Justin Rose of England and Sergio Garcia of Spain, who all posted 71s.
Adam Scott of Australia, who can take the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings by finishing in a two-way tie for 16th or better, birdied three of his last four holes while finishing on the front nine to make the cut on the number at 77-67 — 144, but was tied for 64th.
Phil Mickelson, who won the 2007 Players but has not finished in the top 10 this season on the PGA Tour, shot 75-70 — 145 and missed the cut by one stroke when he could not make birdie putts of slightly under 30 feet on the last two holes.