It was the PGA Tour’s worst nightmare Friday afternoon.
There was former Open champion Louie Oosthuizen shooting 66 to share the 36-hole lead at the Players Championship and there he was, proudly flashing that big UPS, as in United Parcel Service, logo proudly on his chest.
It was the tour’s worst nightmare as Louie sat after his round with Mike Tirico, that UPS logo standing out, by itself, not a FedEx logo in sight.
Earlier in the week, FedEx snuggled up to the PGA Tour, extending its huge sponsorship dollars, more than 45 million of them, expecting exclusivity in the process.
Sorry, Louie was grand-fathered in on this one.
So it was Oosthuizen claiming his share of the lead at nine-under par after two treacherous trips around the Stadium Course.
In with him was unheralded Kyle Stanley, who fashioned his own 66 to tie Oosthuizen for best round of the tournament through two days.
They were two shots in front of J.B. Holmes, the only guy on the leaderboard who can claim major brain surgery on his resume. Holmes suffered some late bogeys to fall out of a tie with the co-leaders but still managed to turn in a 69 and was alone at seven-under par.
The biggest surprise near the top was 54-year-old Vijay Singh, who lives nearby and has probably hit more range balls at the facility than the rest of the field combined. Singh’s 68 put him alone at six-under par and if he could have putted a lick, might have held the lead on his own. But putting has never been Singh’s strong suit.
In all, it was a testy day. It was fairly calm early but winds picked up by mid-day, making the afternoon a tricky proposition for the late starters.
It’s been a tough go for the highest ranked players in the field.
No. 1 Dustin Johnson is in at even-par, making the cut by a couple of shots as it took two-over or better to stick around for the weekend.
No. 2 Rory McIlroy was also in at even but his back remained a huge concern and McIlroy announced that he’ll have an MRI on Monday to ascertain the condition of the back that gave him a lot of trouble early this season.
No. 3 Jason Day is in a two-under and will at least have a shot at becoming the first player to defend the title at this event.
No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama finished one-under.
Jordan Spieth was the flop at the top. The world’s No. 5 missed the cut at this huge event for the third straight year after shooting 73-75 that even saw him dunk a tee shot in the water at 17 near the conclusion of his second round.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia’s even par total got him in for the weekend.
No. 7 Henrik Stenson was tied with Day at two-under par.
A total of 82 players survived the 36-hole cut.