Charl Schwartzel was one of three players who carded a five-under-par 67 on Friday as he moved inside the top 10 at the halfway point of the Players Championship.
His six birdies and a bogey took him to five-under for the tournament, seven shots off the pace-setter Martin Kaymer, who signed for a three-under 69 in his second round to go with his course-record-equalling opening 63.
The best round of the day belonged to Jordan Spieth. His bogey-free 66 lifted him to 11-under-par, one shot behind Kaymer as his quest for a big victory continued.
Schwartzel’s 67 saw him climb into a share of ninth with nine other players, and marked a major turnaround in his game after his lacklustre opening 72. On Thursday, he made an eagle and a birdie, but those gains were cancelled out by three frustrating bogeys.
The turnaround for the 2011 Masters champion came from getting a little more distance off the tees and finding more greens in regulation.
The 36-hole cut fell at even-par 144 and Rory McIlroy made a 13-foot birdie putt on his final hole to make the cut on the number. McIlroy was five-under after 11 holes on Thursday, but shot 70. He was six-over after seven holes on Friday, but shot four-under 32 on the back nine.
“My attitude probably cost me a couple of shots on the front nine, but on the back nine I was able to regroup,” he said. “It’s not where I want to be, but it seems I’m on this run where at least I’m making cuts. Gave myself an opportunity over the weekend to post a couple of good scores and post a top 10 finish again and maybe try and post something better than that.”
Notables to miss the cut included Phil Mickelson, who shot 75-70, Keegan Bradley (72-73), Webb Simpson (75-73), Hunter Mahan (73-78) and Patrick Reed (74-79). Mickelson missed a 30-foot birdie putt at 18 that would have allowed him to make the cut.
Retief Goosen, Rory Sabbatini and Ernie Els made the cut – as did Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge – while former champion Tim Clark and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen missed out.