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Second round of Players suspended; Bezuidenhout, Svensson in lead

Feb 23, 2023; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA; Adam Svensson plays a shot from a bunker on the third hole during the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa and Adam Svensson of Canada were tied atop the leaderboard at 8 under when the second round of The Players Championship was suspended for the night due to inclement weather Friday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The entire afternoon wave — 71 of the field’s 143 remaining players — will resume the second round Saturday at 7 a.m. at TPC Sawgrass.

That includes the co-leaders. Bezuidenhout has four holes left to finish and Svensson has seven. Both players shot 4-under-par 68 in the first round and were 4 under for their second rounds when play was halted.

They own a two-shot lead over Ben Griffin, the leader in the clubhouse at 6-under 138; Collin Morikawa, the two-time major winner who had seven holes left to complete; and Australia’s Min Woo Lee, who has three holes to go.

World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler was tied for sixth with Canada’s Taylor Pendrith at 5 under, both with several holes still ahead.

Bezuidenhout began his round on the back nine and birdied the first two par 5s, Nos. 11 and 16, before adding birdie 3s at Nos. 1 and 4. He stuck his approach shot at No. 4 just 7 feet from the pin and made the birdie putt to move to 8 under not long before play was suspended.

“Early on in the round, I knew it was going to be tough, but the back nine has got some quality holes, and that’s the key around here,” Bezuidenhout said. “You have to keep the ball in the short stuff, which I did. I was hitting a lot of greens and have putted well over the last couple days.”

Svensson also was getting hot when the weather picked up. He began his round on the back nine and birdied the par 5s. He then converted two straight at the par-4 first and par-5 second.

Svensson said staying focused will be the challenge and the key for a potentially extra-long Saturday.

“I’ve done a lot of 36-hole qualifiers, and you just get mentally drained,” he said. “Just got to get some good rest and stay focused and just keep enjoying myself because I’m having a lot of fun.”

Bezuidenhout, 28, has 10 wins worldwide, including three on the DP World Tour, but has yet to claim a PGA Tour title. Svensson, 29, earned his maiden PGA Tour title earlier this season at the RSM Classic in November.

Morikawa began the day alone in second after a first-round 65. After birdieing his first hole he picked up bogeys at the second and eighth.

Scheffler, vying to reclaim the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking this week, had just made two straight birdies at the par-5 ninth and par-4 10th when play was suspended.

“I wasn’t swinging my best, but I made two nice birdies toward the end of the round and then obviously the delay will hurt a little, but start back up in the morning,” Scheffler said.

Chad Ramey was the 18-hole leader thanks to a sterling 8-under 64 Thursday, but he encountered trouble at Sawgrass’ famed No. 17 island green. He missed the green not once but twice, and the two penalty strokes plus a two-putt added up to a quadruple bogey 7 that knocked him from the lead at 9 under down to 5 under.

Another bogey before play was halted left Ramey at 4 under with eight holes to play, tied for eighth with notables Jason Day of Australia, Viktor Hovland of Norway and others.

The projected cut line as of Friday night was 1 over par, but it may shift Saturday as players move up or down the leaderboard. Jordan Spieth may have managed to save his weekend by eagling his final hole, the par-5 ninth, to salvage a 75 and get up to even par for the tournament.

Notable names on track to miss the cut include Matt Fitzpatrick of England (3-over 147), Matt Kuchar (4-over 148) and Keegan Bradley (4-over 148). World No. 3 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was 2 over through 10 holes and 6 over for the tournament.

Spanish star Jon Rahm, the world No. 1 who has already won three events this season, withdrew before starting his second round due to an illness. His withdrawal ended the longest active streak of made cuts on tour at 25.

–Field Level Media

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