PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The Players Championship still lacks some definition going into the weekend. At least it still has one of golf's star attractions.In what looks to be a neighborhood block party, Sea Island residents Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson steered clear of trouble Friday and shared the 36-hole lead with Kevin Na.
They had a one-shot lead over Thomasville's Harris English, a PGA Tour rookie who also lives 100 miles to the north at Sea Island.The attention shifted to Tiger Woods, who with one burst of birdies went from a guy struggling to make the cut to being on the periphery of contention. Woods missed the cut last week at Quail Hollow and has never missed consecutive cuts in his career. He said the thought never crossed his mind.
"I was trying to shoot my number today," Woods said after a 4-under 68, ending a streak of nine straight rounds without shooting in the 60s. "Sixty-six was my number today. I figured that would have been a good way to go into the weekend, being probably four or five back. But I'm still with a good chance."Johnson made five birdies on the back nine until a bogey on the 18th hole, though he matched the best score of the second round with a 66. Kuchar, who made a strong run at the Masters last month, played bogey-free over his last 13 holes for a 68. Na started the back nine with three straight birdies for a 69. They were at 8-under 136.
"It's fun to be back in position with a chance to win again," Kuchar said.
English birdied the 17th and 18th for a 67, while the group at 6-under 138 included past champion Adam Scott (70).
Rory McIlroy doesn't even get a chance to play. The U.S. Open champion, who only last week lost in a three-way playoff at Quail Hollow, opened with a birdie and didn't make another one the rest of the day. He shot 76 and missed the cut for the first time in more than a year, though it wasn't unusual at the TPC Sawgrass. In three appearances at The Players Championship, McIlroy has never broken par or made the cut.
"Hopefully, I'm coming back here for another 20 years," McIlroy said. "If I don't figure it out on my 20th, there's something wrong."