Halfway Hut at THE PLAYERS Championship: The English are coming!

A round-up of the best stats, quotes and social at the halfway stage of the 2021 PLAYERS Championship.

Back in 1982, Colin Welland, writer of Chariots of Fire, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and in his acceptance speech famously cried: "The British are coming!"

Nearly forty years on, his words deserve paraphrasing to describe the state of the 36-hole leaderboard at the 2021 PLAYERS Championship.

England's Lee Westwood leads on 9-under 135 after a second round 66 and his nearest challenger is his fellow countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick on 8-under 136.

Incredibly, the pair do not just hail from the same country, but were born a mere 15 miles apart, in Worksop and Sheffield.

It's not quite movie standard, but they are still potentially brilliant tales and the two men sharing third also have great narratives and back stories.

American Chris Kirk thrashed a brilliant 7-under-par 65 on Friday to reach 7-under 137 as he continues his recovery from alcohol and depression issues.

Meanwhile, first round leader Sergio Garcia is fighting the epic contrast between his imperious long game and fragile putting.

In other circumstances, the fact that on Friday he left an approach shot from 220-yards closer to the pin than he managed with a putt from 22.0-inches would be sensational.

Alas, on Friday it was merely chilling.

Here are the best stats, quotes and social from TPC Sawgrass as we head into the weekend.

Click here for the leaderboard.

Stats

An exceptional tee-to-green game is essential to prosper at Sawgrass. In the last five editions of this tournament the leader of Strokes Gained T2G finished top two on the leaderboard four times and four of the five winners ranked top five.

Through 36 holes this is the SG T2G ranking of the leading contenders: Westwood 9th, Fitzpatrick 8th, Kirk 1st, Garcia 3rd (DeChambeau who is T5th ranks 6th).

15 of the last 20 winners at Sawgrass were in the top three heading into the weekend. That's great news for Westwood, Fitzpatrick, Kirk and Garcia.

But don't discount a big move on Saturday - three of the winners were outside the top 10 at this stage and Tim Clark in 2010 was T23rd.

Fitzpatrick leads the betting at Paddy Power on 5/1, with Westwood 11/2, DeChambeau 11/2, Garcia 8/1 and Kirk 14/1.

Quotes

Lee Westwood on his mental approach to the game:

"I've been working with a psychologist for a few years now, and we just focus on the process, we don't focus on the outcomes and things we can't control. The only thing I can control when I go out there is the process and making sure I have fun. I make sure I have fun."

Matthew Fitzpatrick on playing for a fourth week in a row:

"Statistically we've looked into it before, I normally play rubbish in week four. It's kind of difficult to find something when you're in a four-week stretch and it's not going your way. So playing well the first two, three weeks - that's a difference and a big help."

Chris Kirk on his return to golf:

"There were months where I didn't have any interest in playing golf at all again, much less competitive golf. Thankfully my mindset has changed a lot now in numerous ways. I love being out here and playing against the best players in the world. Days like today are a lot of fun."

Garcia spent Friday on the edge.
Garcia spent Friday on the edge.

Sergio Garcia on his wild round of eagles and missed tiddlers:

"It was a beautiful rollercoaster. A lot of good things. Unfortunately a lot of bad things. But more than anything there was a lot of fighting. When things are not really happening, it's easy to let the round get away from you. Fortunately for me I was able to keep it together. Very proud of that."

Bryson DeChambeau on having the fans back:

"There's a lot of support, which is great. They always ask how many protein shakes I've had, which is funny."

Rory McIlroy on being affected by Bryson DeChambeau's US Open win:

"I think a lot of people saw it and were like, whoa. The one thing people don't appreciate is how good Bryson is out of the rough. Not only because of how upright he is but because his short irons are longer than standard, so he can get a little more speed through the rough. I thought being able to get some more speed is a good thing, and maybe that was to the detriment of my swing."

Dave Tindall has the full story of McIlroy's comments - click here.

Social

Sergio and Phil Mickelson - the (very, very) good, the bad and the ugly:

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Mum knows best:

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