Rahm, Mickelson, Singh contending at THE PLAYERS


Temperatures soared, and scoring heated up Friday at The Players.

Louis Oosthuizen, J.B.Holmes, Vijay Singh and others charged up the leaderboard. Young phenom Jon Rahm shot even par and held on to a 4-under par score, five behind the leaders. He was two shots better until he bogeyed the 15th and 17th. Phil Mickelson had a Jekyll and Hyde round, a 33 on the front and a back that included a ball in the water on the 17th.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champ, was tied at the top with 9-under. He said he had done little in the way of special preparation for the tournament.

“I’ve been probably working a little bit more on my putting at home in Palm Beach,” he explained. “Every day I just do a bit of half an hour of work when I can, and you know, I think it’s paid off.”

Oosthuizen had no bogeys in his round of 66.

Mickelson worked his way around the course, overcoming a disastrous drive at the 10th, where he saved bogey from an unplayable lie in the trees and pine straw on the left side of the hole. He was able to make birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh on the front side for a 33 and at the 11th and 16th. Unfortunately, his tee shot at the 17th dropped him down, but he is still here for the weekend.

Vijay Singh, now 54, moved into contention with a round 68. If he should hang on for a victory, he would become the oldest PGA Tour winner in history, according to the PGA Tour staff.

“I don't know the last time I missed a cut,” Singh said. Keep in mind he has been playing on the PGA Tour Champions circuit where there are no cuts. “I don't try to remember what I did in the past, I came here feeling good about my game and I just thought that -- I was ready to play.”

Jon Rahm got to 7-under par before finding trouble in the closing holes. He birdied the second, and ninth, the 11th and 12th but found trouble and bogeys at the fifth, eighth, and then at the 15th and 17th.

“Even par is probably a score I would have taken before teeing off,” he said. “You get rewarded if you hit good shots like it happened to me yesterday,” he said. “If you hit a bad one, you’re going to be penalized. That’s Pete Dye design.”

If you can imagine this, Rahm’s second shot on the 16th was 194 yards and he hit a 9-iron that got close to the green. Somehow, he chipped over the green from there, and only made par on the hole.

Unfortunately, Jim Furyk lost his chance to play the weekend with a ball that bounced over the 17th green and into the lake followed by another that did the same thing.

Defending champ Jason Day finished at 2-under par, seven behind the leaders.

Jordan Spieth missed the cut for the third time in three successive years.

My pick for the tournament, Dustin Johnson, finished 1-over par for the day. In a Ripley’s moment, Johnson made birdie from the water on 11. After a 304-yard drive, he hit his second shot into the water, dropped in left of the fairway and hit a shot 109 yards into hole.

“I just I didn't hit it very good,” he said. “I didn't drive it well, didn't hit my irons very well, just didn't have enough looks at birdies.”

In semi-historic play, Anirban Lahiri came to the 18th tee with a good chance of making the cut, which looked like 1-over par at the time he played the hole. Then an unfortunate series of events took place. He hit his tee shot into the water, followed by two more. Finally he got one on grass, but needed three more shots to get the ball in the hole. It was a 10.

Ben Hogan once made an 11 on the sixth hole at the Jacksonville Open played at Hyde Park. According to a historic report in the Florida Times-Union, Hogan’s tee shot landed in the water. It was apparently about four inches deep, and Hogan tried to get it out four times.

He took a drop. He hit his next shot in the water. He took another drop and finally hit a shot that landed on the green. Then he two-putted for the 11.