Red-hot Cejka shines at Sawgrass
GERMANY'S Alex Cejka held a commanding clubhouse lead at TPC Sawgrass as the second round of The Players Championship took shape and some big names flirted with the cut.
Cejka, still searching for his maiden PGA Tour victory after playing full time in the United States since 2003, began the day at six under par, a shot behind overnight leader Ben Crane.
The 39-year-old quickly moved past his American rival on the par-72, 7,215yard Players Stadium course with three birdies in a row between the second and fourth holes and went on to shoot a 67, 11 under for the tournament and four shots clear of the field, despite needing an epidural injection to ease the pain in a long-troubled neck.
"I had a pinched nerve and I had a numb arm for three weeks," Cejka said. "So they had to go in there and put some cortisone shot in the nerve, so it's healing better. It's still not 100 per cent but I feel my hand, so that's a good sign."
Americans Kevin Na and Jason Dufner were in the clubhouse on seven under after a 66 and 70 respectively, with Masters champion Angel Cabrera also done for the day after a 65 that took him to four shots behind Cejka. The Argentine had returned to action last week following his Augusta National play-off success over Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell but missed the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship and today bounced back from an opening 72. Crane briefly stayed in touch with fellow early starter Cejka but a double bogey at the par-4 18th left him with a 73, taking him back to six under, alongside Australia's Robert Allenby, who shot a 66.
Camilo Villegas of Colombia had got to seven under before a double bogey at the par-five 16th led to a level-par 73, five under at the halfway stage.
Sweden's Robert S Johnson and American John Mallinger were among the late starters, each beginning at six under with England's Ian Poulter, Retief Goosen of South Africa and Americans David Toms, Scott Verplank and Jonathan Byrd starting at five under.
Johnson and Byrd had both moved to seven under after 10 holes while Poulter birdied his second on the 11th hole to reach six under. Byrd got to eight under after 12 holes and Poulter improved another stroke to seven under with a birdie at the 16th.
England's Paul Casey will start the third round at five under following a 69 that consisted of five birdies and two bogeys. Sweden's Henrik Stenson was at five under having played nine holes with England's Brian Davis at four under following a 71 and Justin Rose at three under after eight holes.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington posted a second consecutive 72 to remain at level par, which was the projected cut mark, while there were plenty of big names needing good rounds to reach the weekend.]
Scotland's Martin Laird made it into the weekend with a level-par round of 72 that kept him at one under for the tournament while defending champion Sergio Garcia was at level par with five holes left to play.
Phil Mickelson, the 2007 Players champion, needed a birdie at the par-5 ninth, his last hole to reach the clubhouse at level par following a 71 but despite an eagle at the same hole, 2004 champion Adam Scott could only finish with 74, at one over for the week.
World No 1 Tiger Woods missed birdie putts on 17 and 18 to come away with a 69 and the world number one will start the third round at four under.
133 A Cejka (Ger) 66 67
137 K Na 71 66, J Dufner 67 70, A Cabrera (Arg) 72 65, J Mallinger 66 71
138 R S Johnson (Swe) 66 72, B Crane 65 73
139 M Letzig 71 68, P Casey (Eng) 70 69, R Allenby (Aus) 73 66, C Villegas (Col) 67 72, J Byrd 67 72, R Moore 71 68
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