Oosthuizen, Stanley tied for Players lead

Louis Oosthuizen kept the ball down out of the wind and hit it into the hole when he got close.

The South African sank a 19-foot birdie putt on his final hole to compete a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to tie Kyle Stanley for the lead midway through the Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“I’ve been putting nicely and made a few putts today,” said Oosthuizen (pictured), who captured the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews and has 13 victories around the world, but has never won in the United States. “My speed (on the greens) has been good and I have been seeing the lines. That was a nice way to finish.

“I hit a lot of 5-woods off the tee, just trying to keep the ball in play. It’s been pretty windy, so I’ve been hitting the ball low to keep the wind out of play. If I keep playing the way I have been the last two days, I think I’ll have a chance to win.”

Stanley overcame two early bogeys and collected eight birdies in his own 66, making a six-foot birdie putt as he also finished on the ninth hole.

The leaders posted 36-hole scores of 69-66 — 135.

“I certainly got the most out of my round today,” said Stanley, whose only pro victory came in the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open. “I thought I played really solid, even when the wind picked up. My iron play was really solid and I’m happy the way I hit the ball.

“I made a long one (from 34 feet) at No. 12, but mostly I just made my way around the course, boring golf, fairways and greens. I think that when the greens are firm and fast like this, it’s easier to make putts.”

J.B. Holmes was tied for the lead until taking bogeys on the last two holes in a 69 that left him two strokes back in solo third, while 54-year-old Vijay Singh of Fiji shot 68 and is three behind in fourth.

Ian Poulter of England holed out from 27 feet for an eagle at No. 16 in a 67 and is another shot down in a tie for fifth with David Hearn of Canada, who wound up at 69, Alex Noren of Sweden, who totaled 71, plus Rafa Carbera Bello of Spain and Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who both had 70s.

Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside carded a 71 and is five behind in a tie for 10th with rookie Jon Rahm (72) of Spain, Webb Simpson (69), Chez Reavie (72), Paul Casey (69) of England and Lucas Glover (70).

Defending champion Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott of Australia all had 72s and are seven back in a tie for 23rd that includes Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who came in at 70.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson finished at 73 and is nine strokes behind in a tie for 43rd that includes Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain and Rory McIlroy, who both totaled 71.

Jordan Spieth shot 73-75 — 148 and missed the cut for the third straight time in the Players.

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