Date: May 10, 2008

Appleby within six shots

Stuart Appleby is the best placed Australian at the midway point of the Players Championship. Appleby carded an even par round of 72 to finish the day at level par and in a tie for 16th place, six strokes behind American Kenny Perry. German Bernhard Langer used his vast experience and a good helping of skill to vault within one stroke of Perry at five-under. Langer, at 50 the second oldest player in the field, tamed extremely strong winds to card five-under-par 67, the day&aposs best round at the demanding Sawgrass TPC. Boosted by an unlikely monster birdie from 60-feet at the famous par-three 17th, the German joined fellow European Sergio Garcia and American Paul Goydos, equal second at five-under 139, while Perry shot a steady 70 to edge to the front. “It was awesome. I hit the ball really well, had lots of opportunities,” said Langer, who revealed he was playing in pain. “My back&aposs been sore, my knee, my shoulder. The physios have been a great help, otherwise I probably wouldn&apost be able to play.” Langer, a two-time runner up in 1993 and 1995, made a stunning start, gathering an eagle and four birdies in the first eight holes. Later, at the island-green 17th, his tee shot barely cleared the water, stopping on the front of the green, just about the length of a cricket wicket from the cup. The usually stoic Langer pumped a fist in celebration when the ball disappeared, but what the golfing gods give, they also take away, as he found out with a bogey at the last, where he missed the green. Spaniard Garcia, meanwhile, produced another superb long game display, hitting every fairway and missing only three greens in regulation. A 73 was not much reward for his efforts, but he could hardly complain about his position. “Unfortunately, I shot the highest score I could today,” said Garcia, whose observation was spot on. “I drove the ball unbelievably and hit a lot of good iron shots.” Of the other Australians to make the halfway cut, Robert Allenby (71), Steve Elkington (76) and Aaron Baddeley (74) are tied for 28th at one-over, while compatriot Adam Scott (71) is a further stroke adrift in equal 37th position. Nick O&aposHern is the only other Australian that will feature on the weekend, the West Australian shooting a steady round of 74 to be tied for 55th place at three-over. Second Round of The Players Championship (Par 72): -6: Kenny Perry 68 70 -5: Bernhard Langer 72 67, Paul Goydos 68 71, Sergio Garcia 66 73 -4: Anthony Kim 70 70 -3: Boo Weekley 70 71 -2: Briny Baird 71 71, John Merrick 70 72, Fred Couples 70 72, Stephen Ames 74 68, Kevin Stadler 70 72, Ben Crane 70 72 -1: Ernie Els 72 71, Ian Poulter 69 74, Phil Mickelson 70 73 Also: E: Stuart Appleby (Australia) 72 72 +1: Robert Allenby (Australia) 74 71, Steve Elkington (Australia) 69 76, Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 71 74 +2: Adam Scott (Australia) 75 71 +3: Nick O&aposHern (Australia) 73 74 +4: John Senden (Australia) 76 72 +5: Mark Hensby (Australia) 78 71, Tim Wilkinson (New Zealand) 77 72, Rod Pampling (Australia) 72 77 +6: Nathan Green (Australia) 78 72, Stephen Leaney (Australia) 77 73 +7: Matthew Goggin (Australia) 74 77, Peter Lonard (Australia) 77 74 +8: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 74 78, Matt Jones (Australia) 75 77, Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 77 75