Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler struggle at TPC Sawgrass

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler struggle at TPC Sawgrass

The two-time victor at TPC drained it.

"I didn't hit the ball close enough today", Woods said. But with several players out on the course with a shot at going lower than minus 10, Woods wasn't assured a spot in rounds three and four in the so-called "fifth major".

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas finally solidified them with a pair of bogeys on the tough par-4 18th at TPC Sawgrass. This is the final year The Players is held in May. Only Woods knows if he can do it.

Playing in a marquee grouping with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler over the first two days, Woods posted the best 36-hole score of the bunch and will be the only one to advance onto the weekend.

The one time Woods did may have saved his round.

But the vast galleries following the big-name threeball were treated to a vintage Woods eagle at the ninth, where he hammered a superb second over the trees to the fringe and he holed the putt from just inside 20 feet.

"Boy it was nice to turn the round completely around there at 9", mused Woods after the round. Everyone saw. Mickelson was eyeing a 54-foot birdie attempt at the time.

Woods nearly had a bonus when a long-range putt lipped out at the eighth, and his par at the long ninth rounded off another day of frustration for the former world No 1, who insisted his biggest fault was with his approach play.

While Woods was hanging in there, Mickelson went off a cliff. He finished at 8 over after an up-and-down second round that included six birdies, five bogeys and a double.

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Woods sits at one under after mixing only two birdies with a lone bogey, unable to cash in as he was a bit more consistent off the tee - eight of 14 fairways hit compared to five of 14 in round one - but struggled with his irons and putter.

"I don't care what people are talking about", he said.

"I just kind of ran out at the end", he said. I had a lot of fun, enjoyed being with the guys.

"Rory is committed to helping build the strongest field we can get and I am sure he has taken the time to chat with the guys on the PGA Tour informally".

"I'm excited for the morning", Fowler said Thursday evening. Still, he found time before he left to pump up his new long-sleeved look on the course. "They wanted to get fans in here on Thursday and then on Friday, so they had one of us in the afternoon either day". "Yeah, at a used vehicle lot", added another.

On Johnson, Bale added: "I really love watching Dustin Johnson play".

"I don't think anybody today who wasn't there that witnessed it, and I don't think anybody before, will ever see that level of play again", Mickelson said.

Joining Johnson atop of the TPC Sawgrass leader board with scores of 66 is fellow US Open victor Webb Simpson along with compatriots Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay and in-form Swede Alex Noren.

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