Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Sergio Garcia fired a 7-under 65 on Friday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead after two rounds of the Players Championship.
Garcia, the 2008 winner, finished 36 holes at 11-under-par 133. His second-round 65 matched his career-low round on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods carded his second straight 5-under 67 to move into second place at minus-10. Woods, the 2001 champion, has won three times this season on the PGA Tour.
Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell both fired 66s on Friday. They are two strokes off the pace at 9-under-par 135, and were joined there by Henrik Stenson, who chipped in for eagle on No. 9, his final hole. With that closing eagle, Stenson carded a 5-under 67 in round two.
Ryan Palmer (69), Casey Wittenberg (69) and David Lingmerth (68) are tied for sixth place at minus-8.
Defending champion Matt Kuchar fired a 6-under 66 to move into a share of ninth place at 7-under-par 137. He was joined there by Masters winner Adam Scott (68), Hunter Mahan (70) and Zach Johnson (71), who share second place with three others last year. Kuchar is the first reigning champion to make the cut since Garcia did so in 2009.
Garcia ran off six consecutive pars from the 10th to start his round. He got up and down for birdie on the par-5 16th to move to minus-5. Garcia converted a 9-foot birdie effort at the 18th, but trouble loomed around the turn.
The 2008 champion found sand off the tee at the first, and more sand with his approach shot. Garcia blasted to 24 feet and 2-putted for bogey, which dropped him back to 5-under.
Garcia caught fire from there, though. At the par-5 second, he chipped to 15 feet and converted that putt for birdie. His tee shot at the third came to rest six feet away and he made that for his second birdie in a row.
The 33-year-old was far from finished. Garcia birdied the fourth from eight feet out, and he kept making putts from longer distances as his round came to a close.
Garcia sank a 19-foot birdie try at five and drained a 26-footer for birdie at six for his fifth consecutive birdie. That moved him into the lead at 10- under.
At the par-3 eighth, Garcia poured in a 40-foot birdie try to finish two rounds at minus-11.
"I played nicely today. I hit the ball better. There were a couple of tee shots here and there that I'd like to hit a little bit better," Garcia said. "I hit my irons really, really well. I gave myself a whole bunch of birdie opportunities, especially on (my) back nine. I didn't really make any on the front."
Woods was in the group behind Garcia, and the world No. 1 started with an 11- foot birdie effort at the 10th. Woods rolled in a birdie try from just inside four feet at No. 12 to move to 7-under.
At the 14th, Woods' drive found the right rough and he dumped his second into a greenside bunker. He blasted to 17 feet and 2-putted for bogey.
Woods recovered that stroke with a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 16th. After three straight pars around the turn, he ran home a 20-foot eagle putt at the second to jump to 9-under.
The 2001 winner rolled in a 5-foot birdie try at four, but gave that shot back at the seventh. Woods' drive found sand and he could only pitch into the fairway. He hit his third to nine feet and 2-putted for bogey.
Woods converted an 18-foot birdie chance at the ninth to finish one behind Garcia.
"There was relatively no wind early on, and I took advantage of that early. But then it started picking up a little bit and the birdie opportunities became a little more difficult," said Woods. "The ball really started traveling as the day went on."
NOTES: Garcia owns eight PGA Tour victories in all, but just one (the 2012 Wyndham Championship) since his victory in 2008 at the TPC Sawgrass ... Westwood has played the first 36 hole bogey-free. No player has ever played all 72 holes at this event without making a bogey ... Billy Horschel hit two balls in the water at 18 en route to missing the cut. Horschel had owned the longest cuts made streak, but now Jimmy Walker has made the most consecutive cuts with 21 ... The cut line fell at even-par 144 with 77 players advancing to the weekend ... Among those missing the cut were British Open winner Ernie Els, 2007 Players champion Phil Mickelson, 2001 runner-up Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, 2009 runner-up Ian Poulter, Nick Watney, Rickie Fowler, world No. 3 Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley.