Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa hits his tee shot on the first tee box in the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia on April 8, 2016. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and American Kyle Stanley are a lot alike.
The co-leaders after two rounds at The Players Championship, Oosthuizen and Stanley are similar in their records on the PGA Tour and in their approach of taking nothing for granted heading to the weekend on the treacherous Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Oosthuizen and Stanley fired 6-under-par 66s on Friday to move to 9-under 135 and assume a two-stroke lead in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
This is the tournament professional golfers consider a fifth major because of the difficulty of the course and the overall quality of the field. It's also one of the toughest tracks to tame when leading.
J.B. Holmes (69) is alone in third at 137 with Vijay Singh of Fiji (68) another shot in arrears and by himself in fourth at 138.
David Hearn of Canada (69), Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain (70), Patrick Cantlay (70), Ian Poulter of England and Alex Noren of Sweden (71) are tied for fifth at 139.
Six players -- including Jon Rahm of Spain (72), former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (69), Brendan Steele (71) and England's Paul Casey (69) -- are another stroke back at 140 and tied for 10th.
Oosthuizen, whose only win on the PGA Tour was at the British Open in 2010, has 13 victories worldwide, including eight on the European Tour. His round on Friday, which began on the back nine, featured six birdies and no bogeys after he collected four birdies and one bogey in the opening round on Thursday.
Oosthuizen said it was important to keep a positive mindset and stay to a predetermined strategy when tangling with the devious Stadium Course.
"The history about the tournament, the golf course, everything about it, you see it as another major week of golf," Oosthuizen said. "For a professional, this is definitely one of the courses that you try and up your game and just give it that little bit more for the week and try and win the championship. That enough is a lot of motivation.
"It doesn't matter what your golf game looks like. It's a week where, like a major week, it's all on how you mentally go about it and just stay in the moment and try your best every shot."
Stanley, who also started on the back nine, endured more of an up-and-down round. He had two bogeys and two birdies in his first four holes (Nos. 10-13) and then birdied Nos. 15-17 in succession. Stanley added three birdies on the front nine, including on the par-5 ninth on which he hit his approach to five feet.
He has won just once (at the 2012 Waste Management Open) in 173 events and had 12 career top 10s but lost his Tour card in the 2014-15 season. Stanley said he would try to draw from the experience from that victory.
"Maybe I'll try to harvest that a little bit -- just knowing that I've been in the position before and was able to pull it off," Stanley said. "But for the most part, not really. I feel like maybe I was a little bit of a different player back then. It was kind of a long time ago.
"I went a couple years there where it was pretty disappointing, but you've just got to keep working hard. You never really quite know when it's going to show up or pay off. I've been pretty consistent about what I've been doing practice-wise and off the golf course. I feel like I've been working on a lot of the right things."
Defending champion Jason Day forged a 72 and is at 142 along with Phil Mickelson (70), Adam Scott of Australia (72), Henrik Stenson of Sweden (70) and first-round co-leaders William McGirt (75) and Mackenzie Hughes of Canada (75).
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson followed his first-round 71 with a 73 and stands at 144, nine strokes off the lead heading into the weekend. Johnson needed 31 and 29 putts, respectively, in the first two rounds.
Among the others at 144 are Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain (71), Justin Thomas (71), Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (71) and Rickie Fowler (75).
Jordan Spieth, the world's No. 5 golfer, was among the top players not making the cut, which was at 2-over 146. That list included Martin Laird of Scotland, Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, Jim Furyk, Tony Finau and Luke Donald of England (all at 147), Marc Leishman of Australia (148), Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, Bill Haas, Bernhard Langer of Germany (149) and Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa (150) and Bubba Watson and Billy Horschel (151).
"I just got a little off yesterday and came back today and hit the ball well," said Spieth, who has missed the cut here each of the past three years.
"I gave myself a lot of chances and from those mid-range opportunities that I had, just couldn't quite get comfortable. It's just been on and around the greens I just haven't quite figured it out."
NOTES: 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett (back) withdrew after nine holes of his second round. ... If Vijay Singh wins this week, he would become the oldest player to do so on the PGA Tour at 54 years, 2 months. Sam Snead currently owns the record at 52 years. ... Luke List became the first player to make eagle on the par-4 12th after driving the green. His eagle putt was 14 feet, 9 inches. List still missed the cut. ... Scott Piercy recorded the first-ever quintuple bogey nine on the par-4 fifth hole. ... Only four of 25 first-round leaders/co-leaders (stroke play) have gone on to win in the 2016-17 season, none since Justin Thomas won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January in wire-to-wire fashion. ... On Thursday, the Stadium Course played 1.27 strokes easier (72.22-73.49) than in the afternoon wave.