The Friday grind: Stories from The Players cutline

Keegan Bradley of the United States hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship.

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Save for the World Golf Championships, which have soiled the landscape with their “no cut” agendas, there remains a constant storyline with PGA Tour tournaments that never loses its flavor.

The Friday grind to earn a weekend tee time.

While the mere challenge of trying to make the cut can be dismissed at times by millionaire golfers, Keegan Bradley had no problem saying that it weighed on his mind as he came to the closing holes at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in a warm Friday twilight.

The fact that he birdied the 14th, 17th and 18th holes to assure himself one of 72 weekend tee times at The Players Championship made Bradley one of the notable “cut” stories. He had missed the cut in each of his last two starts and desperately didn’t want to make it three in a row, so Bradley said he was proud of the way he held in there. Considering how things unfolded for many others, it’s clear that the reigning PGA champion has a right to be.

Consider some of the lowlights in the quest to make the cut:

• The par-5 ninth hole may have ranked easiest on Friday (50 birdies, 2 eagles, 4.693 field average), but it ruined the week for Louis Oosthuizen, who closed his round at the ninth. He was long and right with his second shot from 255 yards, pitched to 27 feet, but then three-putted to bogey the hole and miss the cut by one.

• Stepping to the tee at the par-4 18th at level par and with a weekend tee time in the balance proved a difficult task. Francesco Molinari and Charles Howell both bogeyed that last hole to miss the cut by one.

• For a second straight week, Joe Ogilvie had a rough finish. At the Quail Hollow Club last week, he was on the cut line when he double-bogeyed his 36th hole, the par-4 ninth; this week, Ogilvie was 1 under for the tournament when he bogeyed the par-5 16th and the 18th to miss by one.

• Nick O’Hern also seemed to have his weekend planned, only to bogey the 16th and 18th holes to miss by one.

• Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson ended similarly – bogeys at 16 and 17 to miss by one.

• Three of the biggest turnarounds of the negative variety belonged to Ben Crane, Padraig Harrington and Sean O’Hair. Crane opened with 67, but went out in 40 Friday, shot 78, and missed by one. Harrington backed up a 69 with a 76, making bogeys at the first, fifth, sixth and eight holes on his final nine holes to miss by one. O’Hair? From 69 Thursday he went for 77 on Friday, the final nail being a double bogey at the 17th to miss the cut by two.

• Jeff Overton nearly wrote a different script, because after opening with a 78, he was 6 under through 14 holes Friday to get onto the cut line. But a double bogey at his 16th hole, the par-4 seventh, left him outside the cut.

• Kyle Stanley’s rough slide continued. He needed a birdie down the stretch to make the cut; instead, he bogeyed the par-5 16th and with matching 73s he missed the cut for the fourth time in his last seven tournaments. Since winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, Stanley has finished no better than T-51 in seven tournaments.

• Scott Stallings also continues to struggle. He missed his fourth consecutive cut and has made checks in just three of 12 tournaments.

Ah, but it wasn’t all so deflating Friday, because others finished with a flourish to get into the weekend at even par or better. A few of those highlights:

• John Rollins birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to get in on the number.

• Robert Allenby pitched in from 53 feet at the island-green 17th to pull in at level par.

• Peter Hanson played his last eight holes in 3 under to get in on the number.

• Pat Perez birdied one of the most difficult holes, the par-4 seventh, his 15th hole, to make it on the number.

• In a curious one, David Hearn failed to make a birdie in a second-round 75, yet he made it into the weekend.

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