Bezuidenhout, Svensson share lead

‘The first nine holes was tough.’

Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa lines up a putt on the fifth hole during the second round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on Friday. | David Cannon/Agence france-presse

MIAMI (AFP) — South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Canadian Adam Svensson shared the lead at the Players Championship on Friday before the second round was suspended due to an incoming storm.

Bezuidenhout was four-under-par for his round, through 14 holes leaving him on eight-under for the tournament while Svensson was on the same score but had only completed 11 holes.

American Ben Griffin was the clubhouse leader after completing his round, shooting a one-under 71 to leave him two strokes behind the leaders.

Play will resume at 7 a.m. local time on Saturday with world number three Rory McIlroy facing the strong risk of missing the cut.

The Northern Irishman was six-over for the tournament having double bogeyed on the par-4 sixth, placing him five shots away from the projected cut.

World number two Jon Rahm of Spain had pulled out of the tournament on Friday morning due to illness.

The 26-year-old Bezuidenhout, who has collected ten wins internationally but has never won on the PGA Tour, was pleased with the way he coped with windy conditions early in his round.

“The first nine holes was tough. It was so windy out there. But it actually died down over the last hour. I just tried to keep the ball in play. In that wind, it was just trying to hit fairways and give yourself looks at the green,” he said.

Svensson, who won his first PGA Tour event at the RSM Classic in November, started on the back nine and had just hit consecutive birdies after the turn when play was called for the day.

“I was hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, putting well. Just playing safe, playing aggressive when I can,” he said.

American Collin Morikawa and Australian Min Woo Lee sat two strokes behind the leaders in a share of third spot alongside Griffin.

Australian Jason Day, who came into the tournament on the back of four straight top-10 finishes, made a second consecutive 70 to stand at four-under.

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth carded a three-over 75 with double bogeys on the 14th and 5th holes to leave him on even-par.

“I had a bad day. Got off to a great start, and then I just got behind the driver, missed fairways on a few of those holes on the back nine. Almost every hole kind of hit it in the wrong spot,” he said.

“It got really challenging, but I didn’t help myself with some of the decisions I was making,” he added.

Spieth had a spectator to thank for making the cut after making an eagle on his last hole, the par-5 ninth, to keep him in the tournament.

The American’s drive off the tee was heading into the water but hit a watching fan and the ball bounced back into the fairway. Spieth then chipped in from just off the green for his eagle.

“I got an extremely lucky break on nine or I wouldn’t be playing the weekend. I am trying to get that guy’s information and see literally whatever he wants this weekend because everything from here on out is because it hit him,” he said.

“Very fortunate. I can’t say I deserved it, but I tried to hold my attitude together and just keep on focusing trying one foot in front of the other. I don’t know if that means I got rewarded for that or what, but overall I got very, very fortunate.”

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