6:35 p.m. Bill has asked me to explain why I said that Faldo was too short to compete on many of today's golf courses and at the same time say that it doesn't matter that Slocum is one of the shortest players on tour.
Slocum has equipment that Faldo didn't have in his prime-hybrids and a hot ball that helps him overcome those distance limitations. Faldo played a precision game that relied on excellent rhythm. Had Faldo played in this era he would have done fine, but we'll never know if he would have been a 3-time Masters winner. I say probably not because he had a mentality about the game that's hard to rationalize today with guys hitting 200 yard 7 irons. 6:32 p.m. I can't remember the last time I watched a tournament for three hours and most of the conversation on the telecast was about the cut line. Think about it. The purse is almost 10 million. Just sticking around for the weekend is a nice little paycheck. 6:30 p.m. The cut line has moved to 1 under. 6:27 p.m. Watch out for Heath Slocum on the weekend. He's at 10 under and putting very well. It doesn't matter that he's one of the shortest hitters in the field. 6:18 p.m. Phil finished at 3 under par with Tiger. Who knows what they will do on the weekend. Two 65s might not even be enough to win this thing. 6:17 p.m. To Kevin Ryan: You're exactly right. The best players in the world now aren't straight hitters. And Faldo couldn't compete on most of the current layouts because he was a very short hitter. I think there is a little bit of promotion that goes into these setups that goes unnoticed. The U.S. Open with the graduated rough has even backed off it's hardcore rules about accuracy. 6:12 p.m. I know that 18 is playing downwind but Dustin Johnson's 172-yard 9-iron is crazy long. A few years ago that was a 6-iron. 6:10 p.m. Henrik Stenson, the defending Players Champion, is in danger of missing the cut by a shot after finishing at 1 under. I told everybody that he was a nice player, but that it was too early to call him great. What has he done lately since he took off his pants and won the Players? 6:03 p.m. To Rob: Nowadays as a tournament director the best way to ensure that you have a name brand winner is to make the course easy. If the course is hard then you're likely to get a fluke winner. For that reason you'll never see Augusta National play super hard again. The reasoning is that the top players are going to make more birdies than the middling guys, but on a hard course their advantage is nullified. 6:00 p.m. The 8th hole is playing a 243-yards today. That's too long for a Par 3. 5:56 p.m. Thanks Kevin for clarifying. The chunk and run is the percentage shot but Phil would never do that. 5:54 p.m. Dustin Johnson just hit a sand wedge a 152 yards at 17. 5:52 p.m. The 17th hole green is a shade under 4,000 square feet. That seems like a pretty easier target with a short iron doesn't it? 5:50 p.m. Gary Koch just called Phil's shot a "chunk and run." 5:48 p.m. Phil just hit a sand shot straight from a video game. Full swing with water behind the pin and he clips it perfectly to inside five feet. 5:46 p.m. The pin at 17 today is pretty accessible. It's middle back. On Sunday it will be near the right front edge with a little pot bunker fronting it. 5:40 p.m. Vijay Singh is in at 1 under and it looks like he's going to miss the cut. It's amazing that a guy who practices and plays at TPC Sawgrass and has won just about everything, can't manage to win at home. 5:36 p.m. To Thomas: following shot tracker and blogging on golf.com will only make you more efficient as you learn to add one more thing to your outsized duties as a multi-tasker in a smaller, more sturdy workforce. It makes the economy stronger and more reliable if it has a workforce that can do all this stuff. 5:31 p.m. Coming off the east from the Atlantic Ocean, the wind has really picked up at the Stadium Course. I wish it had arrived on Thursday morning. 5:27 p.m. I still can't get my head around a guy needing to get to 2 under par to make the cut in a tournament as prestigious as the Players. 5:23 p.m. To Thomas: I mentioned Sean Foley who works with Stephen Ames, Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair and Justin Rose, among others, as the perfect teacher for Tiger because he understands the relationship between the swing and body better than anyone out there. That's what Tiger needs. 5:20 p.m. Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller would be great together. But who would be the straight man. Or just forget about that and let them run with Gary McCord. That's a dream lineup for me with Peter Kostis doing the swing analysis. Faldo can work with anyone. Just listen to him today with Gary Koch. 5:16 p.m. Heath Slocum is one of those players that lives under the radar, but is always near the leader board. He won last year at Barclays and was barely noticed. He's 9 under this week. 5:12 p.m. 81 players are currently under par. Last year at this point there were only 60. I wonder why the Tour set it up so easy? Were they hoping that the wind would be up all week? 5:08 p.m. Ernie has the hockey player Dan Quinn on the bag this week. One of the commentators called him a great and Billy Andrade basically said that he wasn't. 5:01 p.m. It appears as though everyone playing in the afternoon is either trying to make the cut or get in striking range of the leaders. No one is going really low. 5:00 p.m. According to the commentators many of the young players in the field including Alex Prugh, said they learned some of the nuances of the golf course from playing a video game. 4:53 p.m. Phil better get it into gear. He's on the cut line at 2 under. 4:48 p.m. Edoardo Molinari, the younger brother of Francesco, who is playing here this week, passed up a chance to win the $1.7 million first prize to stay at home and play the Italian Open. That's some serious loyalty to your home country. 4:46 p.m. I know the leaders finished this morning, but it's worth mentioning how well Lee Westwood played today with 7 under 65. It's probably saying too much but he's probably the star of the upcoming Ryder Cup across the pond and a favorite at the next three majors. 4:41 p.m. Baddeley should have re-teed, Instead from an awkward yardage from the drop zone, he plopped another ball in the water on 17. Hitting 5 now. 4:39 p.m. Aaron Baddeley just proved me wrong about the 17 as he pulled one into the water. It's not easy for everybody. 4:37 p.m. There have been 27 birdies today on the 17th hole. Robert Karlsson just hit one close there. 4:33 p.m. Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy have all played pretty mediocre this week after having wins in lesser tournaments this season.. I think we make too much of momentum and how well guys are playing coming into tournaments. 4:30 p.m. Phil just tried to be too cute with a wedge near a hazard on 17 and dropped it in bunker. Phil being Phil. 4:17 p.m. I have played the Stadium course a lot over the years in the summers. It's a better so-called fifth major in March. Playing it in the spring without growing the rough makes it too easy for these long-hitting pros. 4:16 p.m. To reader Traci: The cut is stable at 2 under. There is no wind out there and the conditions haven't changed much throughout the day. 4:10 p.m. Did anybody see any of Tiger's round. He was pretty sloppy. He didn't exactly attack the course today and right now he's nine shots back of the leader, Lee Westwood. 4:04 p.m. Good to be back with you this afternoon for the Players, which is shaping up as the easiest fifth major in history. 4:01 p.m. After that Holmes mess-up, my manager has signaled to the bullpen and is coming out to the mound. That's going to be it for me this afternoon. I think the line looks like this: 6.1 IP, 3R, 5H, 3K, 2 BB.
The hard-throwing Farrell Evans from Sports Illustrated is taking over now. Thanks for reading! 3:57 p.m. Reader Tracy Spring Harvey catches my error my leaderboard says that JB Holmes is 6 under after nine. I'm sooo confused.
Q. Your Ryder Cup partner Sergio Garcia has seen some ups and downs. He hasn't won in two years. Any thoughts on his game? I know you're all worried about your own things out here. Is it kind of the circle of golf, basically, you go up, you go down?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't analyze other people's games. There are far too many people with opinions. That's the unfortunate thing about opinions sometimes, everybody's got one, so I don't volunteer mine too much.
But anybody with class, class is permanent and form is temporary. He's got a lot of class, and he's just short of a bit of confidence at the moment. But two years ago you saw him win this tournament, and I'm sure that Sergio Garcia is not far away given a few good rounds under his belt.
3:08 p.m. See how blue that water looks around 17. About as real as your local
Putt-Putt. If they didn't put dye in that water it would look like a swamp from the movie Anaconda. 3:07 p.m. Mickelson (2-under) misses the fairway on five, so he's 1-5 on tee shots today. Looks like a lot of birdies out there today. You gotta think Mickelson will start making a move. 3:05 p.m. Adam Scott (4-under) just misses a birdie putt on 17 (his eighth hole today). 3 p.m. Furyk (3-under) plays a sweet shot through the trees to the seventh green. 2:55 p.m. Ben Crane (6-under) hits a sweet approach on 16. Stephanie Wei emails that the slow-playing Crane's comments Thursday will likely make Rory Sabbatini want to jump in a pond. (Sabbatini famously once walked to the 18th tee while his playing partner Crane was in the 17th fairway.)
Crane basically explained why it takes him so
long to play, rattling on about his “awesome game plan” and
painstakingly elaborate mental "pre-load program," which includes a
"checklist" of how to think "before, during and after each shot" based
on how well he executes it. He also rates each shot on a scale of 1 to 5, and then makes a hand signal with the number to his coach who writes it down. Rory probably has a hand signal for that too.
Careful, Stephanie. How do we know that was the real Ben Crane? 2:51 p.m. I'd like to add my "What's wrong with Tiger's swing" theory to the pile. When Tiger stands over the ball, he thinks, "I probably lost $500 million." Seriously, how can he not be thinking about this stuff?
Incidentally, Woods did not talk about Hank Haney or anything interesting in his post-round comments. Here's the link if you have trouble sleeping tonight. 2:45 p.m. Longtime friend of the blog Stephanie Wei of WeiUnderPar is alarmed by Dustin Johnson's white-out look (white pants, shirt and hat). Johnson is even through 4.
Did Dustin Johnson miss the memo that it's a big fashion no-no to wear white before Memorial Day? My God.
When I see Johnson I keep hearing the ice-cream-truck music in my head, which always sounds to me like the theme music of a Stephen King book. 2:40 p.m. Ernie Els makes birdie on No. 4. Gets to 2-over. Phil Mickelson (2-under) makes another par. 2:35 p.m. J.J. Henry (5-under) is behind a tree on 11. Manages to pitch it back out to the fairway. I like Henry, but he's no "J.J." Jimmy Walker, now that's a J.J. And we don't mean the guy who's 4-under today.
2:33 p.m. After watching J.B. Holmes violent ankle turn as he drives on 14, Faldo says, "Good thing he's not wearing Fred Couples' boat shoes or he'd be flat on his back." 2:27 p.m. Most overrated par-3 on Tour? Here are the recent stats on 17 at TPC Sawgrass. Basically, in good conditions, the pros make short work of 17. If it's windy, the hole makes short work of them.
The 17th Hole at TPC Sawgrass was the 137th hardest par 3 on Tour
in 2009 with scoring average 3.026. (Hardest par-3 on Tour: No. 17 at
PGA National (The Honda Classic) with a scoring average of 3.395)17th Green in Regulation: Field2009 83%2008: 70%2007 67%2006 74%2004 78%2003 77%Total Water Balls: 17th Hole 2009 32 2008 64 2007 93 2006 57 2005 68 2004 30 2003 29Since 2003, 373 of 3,077 total tee shots have gone in the water (12%) 2:22 p.m. Mickelson misses another birdie putt on No. 3. Still 2-under after three pars. 2:19 p.m. I think Rory Sabbatini (1-under through 1) stole his black, geo-patterned short from Joe Pesci in Casino. 2:16 p.m. Charley Hoffman (6-under) over the green on 17 but catches the path. Mickelson (2-under) hits a nice wedge on 3 and will have a chance at birdie. 2:13 p.m. Another good day for Davis Love III. He's in sixth place at 7-under after a 68 today. Also in at 7-under? K.J. Choi, Bill Haas, Bo Van Pelt and John Rollins. 2:09 p.m. What do you call a tournament where Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are never in contention anymore? The Players Championship. 2:08 p.m. Mickelson misses his birdie putt on 3 and there's still some chicken in that Double Down. 2:05 p.m. Anthony Kim is out for 10-12 weeks after his thumb surgery, but I liked this story about Kim pleading his Ryder Cup case to captain Cory Pavin.
Within two hours after surgery, he was on the phone with Pavin.
"I'm not an agent, I'm not selling anything," Kim said Friday from his home in Dallas. "I told him, 'Listen to this and I'm done, I won't bother you again. I want to play on your team so bad that the reason I played hurt is to make the team. I promise you if you put me on the team, I'm going to have a good attitude going over there. I'm the kind of player you want.'"
Somehow, I think AK will be on the team. OK, back to the Players.
2:01 p.m. After starting par-par, Mickelson hits his tee shot to about 10 feet on the par-3 third. 2 p.m. Bogey from the drop area on 13 for Adam Scott, 3-under. 1:57 p.m. Jerry Kelly (5-under after a 66 today) ripped the Sawgrass greens today, according to PGA Tour.com.
“There’s no excuse for the greens,” said Kelly, who started the day outside the cut line and ended it, at least for now, in the top 20. “They’re soft. They’re spongy. They don’t roll true in the afternoon. They can’t keep them short enough.
“I know it was a tough winter, but I just don’t know what’s going on. I’d rather play on mud and dirt like we used to sometimes than play on a first cut. It’s like an old fringe. It’s slower than an old fringe, but when you get it downgrain it’s so fast because it’s so long it’s laying down.”
Westwood is 12-under. What would these guys shoot if the greens were better? 1:54 p.m. Furyk (4-under) finds the green on No. 3. The guy has more logos on his hat than a NASCAR car. 1:50 p.m. 2004 champion and comeback player of the year hopeful Adam Scott makes birdie on 12, gets to 4-under. Then hits his tee shot into the water on the par-3 13th. As Woods says, "It's a process, it doesn't happen overnight." 1:46 p.m. Furyk makes birdie on No. 2 and gets to 4-under. Locals Furyk and Vijay Singh have a huge homefield advantage here. Vijay is probably building a cottage near the private Tour range. 1:45 p.m. Mickelson makes par on 1. Still 2-under. 1:42 p.m. Will archeologists from the future realize that the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse isn't actually the capital of a small country? 1:40 p.m. Graeme McDowell birdies No. 17, his eighth birdie of the day, gets to 7-under. He's low Northern Ireland player today. Rory McIlroy will be going home after finishing even. 1:37 p.m. Lee Westwood misses a birdie chance at 18, but the slimmed down Westwood can treat himself to a diet beer after a 65 today. 1:34 p.m. Reader Jarmond has a suggestion for improving 17 at Sawgrass: What TPC Sawgrass
#17 needs is to be shaped more like a donut, with a small pond in the
middle. it's not nearly gimmicky enough as it is. Great idea, Jarmond. Maybe they also could make the green move back and forth while you're on the tee. 1:32 p.m. Italian Stallion Francesco Molinari finishes at 11-under after a 65 today, one behind leader Lee Westwood. 1:30 p.m. Mickelson, Ernie Els and Dustin Johnson together for the entire Golf Channel telecast. Nice TV group today. 1:29 p.m. Mickelson in the fairway with his drive on No. 1. How shaky was Tiger's driving on Thursday? The PGA Tour Shotlink tracked one of his drives as "Woods, 240 yards to unknown location." 1:28 p.m. Vijay Singh at 4-under on his home course after a birdie on No. 3. 1:27 p.m. At 2-under, Mickelson "needs to get his skates on," Faldo says. 1:26 p.m. Lucas Glover finishes at 9-under after a 65 (!) today. The defending U.S. Open champ is coming into form at the right time. 1:23 p.m. Charley Hoffman makes birdie on 13 and gets to 6-under. With his shaggy 70s-style long blond hair, Hoffman looks like he might have been the producer on The Eagles' One of These Nights album. 1:20 p.m. Leader Lee Westwood (12-under) tees off on 18. Understandably, we're talking about the young stars of tomorrow after Rory McIlroy's win at Quail Hollow and Ryo Ishikawa's 58 in Japan. But at majors, we talk about Woods, Mickelson, Westwood, Harrington and Cabrera as the serious contenders. Don't see that changing in 2010. 1:17 p.m. Woods tells Golf Channel that he hit the ball better on Thursday than today. "It's a process. It doesn't happen overnight."
He's just hoping it happens before mid-June. 1:13 p.m. We'll be seeing a lot of No. 17 today since the island green makes for great TV shots. A poll on PGA.com calls it the best par-3 in the world. Agree, disagree. I voted for No. 12 at Augusta. TPC wouldn't break my top 5. 1:12 p.m. "First made cut in a row," The Golf Channel's Nick Faldo says of Tiger. Sir Nick sounds a little chippy today, could be fun. 1:10 p.m. Woods makes his 8-foot par putt. Gutsy putt keeps him at 3-under for the tournament and on the safe side of the cut line. 1:08 p.m. Tiger is playing the tricky par-5 ninth as his 18th hole today. Finds the back bunker and will have to scramble for par. 1:05 p.m. Robert Allenby is in the clubhouse tied for fourth place at 8-under with Lucas Glover. Another great start for Allenby. He should wear red on Thursdays and Fridays. 1 p.m. Welcome back to the Players Championship Live Blog, where we're always happy to get a lesson from Hank Haney. Tiger Woods is 3-under through 17, 1-under today. Lee Westwood is leading at 12-under through 16, with Ryuji Imada one back. Phil Mickelson (2-under) tees off at 1:28 p.m. We'll be here all day so please stick around and leave a comment below.
Tune into Golf.com on Friday for complete coverage of Phil Mickelson's second round at the 2010 Players Championship. Golf Magazine's Mike Walker will be live blogging from 1-4 p.m. SI's Farrell Evans will take over from 4-7 p.m