Leaders Holmes and Stanley are veterans but neither has done much this season to distinguish himself.
Oosthuizen and Stanley each fired 6-under 66's to move to minus-9. But I've been pretty consistent about what I've been doing practice wise and off the golf course. It's also one of the toughest tracks to tame when leading.
J.B. Holmes, a former University of Kentucky player who once won a college tournament across the street at the Sawgrass Country Club, is third at 7-under, following a 69. He's joined by Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ian Poulter, Patrick Cantlay and David Hearn.
The 2008 Players champion is the only golfer in the top 12 who has won this tournament in the past.
Stanley, 29, is a PGA Tour victor who has struggled to find consistent form in recent seasons, but he was sharp on Friday, shooting a six-under 66 with eight birdies and two bogeys to climb to nine under.
"I think it's always great coming in [to an event] with good form and knowing you're hitting the ball well", Oosthuizen said. Stanley has no problem just playing his game. "That enough is a lot of motivation".
Their homelands - United States, South Africa, South Korea, Argentina and England - are surpassed in their diverseness only by their golf games. Johnson shot 40 on the back nine for a 74 and was 11 shots out. 10-13) and then birdied Nos.
Tied at nine-under with Holmes is the steady Kyle Stanley, who carded an even par 72. Stanley said he would try to draw from the experience from that victory. "But for the most part, not really". It has never had a repeat champion, and you have to stretch to find any player with a consistently good record here. It was kind of a long time ago.
"I don't really know what to stay about that round". You know, so it's something I don't really want to think about, but you do now and then think about it. I feel like I've been working on a lot of the right things.
Former Players Championship victor Adam Scott (71) is lurking at 3 under, two ahead of defending champion Jason Day (73) and Rory McIlroy (71).
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson followed up his first-round 71 with a 73 and stands at 144, nine strokes off the lead heading into the weekend. After opening in 69-66, the 29-year-old co-led with Louis Oosthuizen, two clear of Holmes. A runner-up finish at the 2015 U.S. Open, where he finished a shot behind Jordan Spieth despite a first-round 77, also is among Oosthuizen's five second-place finishes on the PGA TOUR. I definitely feel like I got the most that I could have out of that round.
NOTES: 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett (back) withdrew after nine holes of his second round.
Vijay Singh, the 54-year-old Fijian, quickly got within one shot of the lead until it all fell apart. Made a few adjustments there, and it felt pretty comfortable on the greens. His eagle putt was 14 feet, 9 inches. Now he's miss the cut three straight times. His round was the only one of the day without a bogey, and his streak of holes without dropping a shot is now at 28.
Thunderstorms are possible for Saturday afternoon, which might be what it takes to at least soften the Players Stadium Course.
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