Martin Kaymer remained on course for a £1m payday thanks to a second round of 69 in the Players Championship at Sawgrass. Kaymer held a two-shot advantage overnight after his course record equalling 63 and was five clear of the field when he posted a halfway total of 132, 12 under par.
The former world No 1 had birdied his last four holes in the opening round and was progressing well when he holed from 25 feet on the third, but dropped his first shot of the week on the seventh, driving into a fairway bunker.
A birdie on the ninth took him out in 35 and three more birdies and one bogey on the back nine meant that the 29-year-old German – who secured the point to ensure Europe retained the Ryder Cup in 2012 – set a testing target for the later starters.
Kaymer, who won the US PGA Championship in August 2010 and became world No 1 the following February for eight weeks, said: "It was very difficult today. It was a little tougher especially when you shoot such a low score, your expectations are high and you need to find a way to lower them and see it as a new day, so 69 was a very good score. "
Adam Scott was facing an anxious wait to see if his latest attempt to become world No 1 remained alive. The Australian rebounded from his opening 77 – which featured double bogeys on the 17th and 18th – to return a 67, with three birdies in his last four holes.
Scott, who could have overtaken the absent defending champion Tiger Woods by staying at home, needed at least a top-16 finish, but he was level par for the tournament with the projected cut at one under.