PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Playing with a heavy heart and the initials “CA” on his hat, Ryan Palmer managed to keep his composure before and during the second round of The Players Championship on Friday.
After was a different story.
Playing just hours after the death of one of his best friends, Palmer got a little emotional following his par putt on the 18th green.
“The day was over so I kind of let it all out for a minute,” Palmer said after a 3-under 69 that left him at 8-under 136 and squarely in contention at TPC Sawgrass.
Palmer got the call Thursday night that Clay Aderholt was killed in a car accident in San Antonio earlier in the evening.
He talked to friends and his psychologist, whose advice focused on “being real calm and slow out there and just not getting too emotional.”
Palmer kept the tips in mind, which he credited with helping him get through an up-and-down round that featured five bogeys, four birdies and two eagles.
“I had some rough holes, but I stayed strong, stayed positive and kept in the present, and that got me through,” Palmer said.
Palmer said he and Aderholt grew up together in Amarillo, Texas, attending the same middle and high schools as well as going to college together at Texas A&M.
“All the way back to as long as I can remember,” Palmer said.
Palmer will enter Saturday’s third round in a three-way tie for sixth, three strokes behind leader Sergio Garcia.
He said his short game “saved” him Friday, and anyone who watched him play the Stadium Course knew exactly what he was talking about. He drained a putt from just off the green for eagle at No. 9 and chipped in from a bunker on the 11th for another. It was the first time he’s ever managed two eagles in the same tournament, let alone the same round.
“You’ve got to have things happen like that to be in contention to win, so I’ve had some things go my way,” said Palmer, who never considered withdrawing from the field. “If we keep playing well and get a few more breaks on the weekend, who knows? We’ll see what happens.”
CASTRO STUMBLES: Roberto Castro’s stay atop the leaderboard at The Players was short-lived.