PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., May 11 (Reuters) - Charl Schwartzel put his surprisingly poor Players Championship record behind him to earn a share of the clubhouse lead with Patrick Cantlay in the second round on Friday.
On another ideal morning for low scoring at TPC Sawgrass, Schwartzel, without a top-25 finish in seven starts at the tournament, showed glimpses of what he is capable of with a bogey-free six-under-par 66.
At 10-under, Schwartz and American Cantlay led by one stroke from American Chesson Hadley, while Tiger Woods faced a nervous wait to find out whether he would make the cut after another mediocre round.
Woods carded 71 for one-under 143, a distant nine strokes behind the leaders.
“I didn’t quite swing it right today, and I didn’t quite have the shape, ball flight,” said 14-times major champion Woods.
“With these greens as soft as they are, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities I had today to really shoot a good number.”
Schwartzel, conversely, said all facets of his game had been strong, and that he had started playing better since receiving some recent advice from compatriot Louis Oosthuizen to focus on swing tempo.
“If I can keep the right tempo going, I’m going to keep hitting good shots,” said the 33-year-old South African, who has won only twice in 173 starts on the PGA Tour.
One of those victories, however, came with a green jacket, at the 2011 U.S. Masters, where Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to storm to victory.
Once ranked as high as sixth in the world, Schwartzel has dropped to 62nd after an indifferent couple of years.
“My last two years, maybe even two and a half years, have been pretty frustrating,” he said, adding that he was now using an instructor for the first time in his career.
Co-leader Cantlay, in his second Players Championship, is proving a quick learner, as he showed by carding 68.
“My game’s been trending in the right direction,” said Cantlay, who teamed with U.S. Masters champion Patrick Reed at the PGA Tour event in New Orleans two weeks ago.
Hadley, meanwhile, threatened to break clear of the field, but fell at the final couple of hurdles, inexplicably finding the water at the island-green par-three 17th, before adding bogey at the last.
“I did not hit the shot the way I wanted to, but I didn’t feel like I hit it bad enough for it not to get to the front of the green or maybe even five steps on the front,” he said of the 17th.
“So might have caught a gust (but) it’s my fault at the end of the day.” (Reporting by Andrew Both Editing by Toby Davis)