PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — David Toms has gone five years without winning, and 10 years since his lone major at the PGA Championship. Now he has to fend off a host of players who have won big events a lot more recently.
Toms went 25 holes before making a bogey Friday and countered with enough good shots for a 4-under 68, giving him a one-shot lead over Nick Watney going into what figures to be another wild weekend on the TPC Sawgrass.
Watney won a World Golf Championship two months ago at Doral, punctuated by a birdie on the tough closing hole. Despite missing four birdie putts inside 12 feet on his last seven holes, he got into the final group.
Luke Donald, the World Golf Championship winner at Arizona in February, became the first player since 2004 to make it around Sawgrass without a bogey for the first 36 holes. He birdied the island-green 17th and shot 67 to finish two shots behind.
Also two shots behind:
U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell, who is back on track after a dismal April.
Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, riding high after his win last week at Quail Hollow.
Steve Stricker, who has won two FedEx Cup playoff events and has become a regular among the top 10 in the world.
"Whoever plays the best on the weekend," Glover said, as good of an answer as anyone can provide.
Toms quite trying to be perfect on a course that looks like it demands no less. It led to nearly perfect play over two days at The Players, and pole position going into the weekend.
Toms doesn't have a great record at TPC Sawgrass. In 18 previous attempts, he has missed the cut 10 times and only once has finished in the top 10. He just couldn't figure out the right angle into the greens, and always believed it had to be just right.
"It seemed early in my career around here I was always trying to play the perfect shot," he said. "I think the last few years, I've just learned to try to play my game, my shot ... rather than trying to hit the perfect shot on the golf
Watney did his best to catch him.
He started the back nine with back-to-back birdies, then gave himself a chance on every hole. Watney missed four birdie putts inside 12 feet over his last seven holes, settling for 71 after opening with a 64.