Roberto Castro upbeat after rough round at Players

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Roberto Castro followed his opening-round 63 with a 6-over-par 78 on Friday. Only five players in the field had a worse round.  GERALD HERBERT/ 
ASSOCIATED PRESS
GERALD HERBERT/ ASSOCIATED PRESS
Roberto Castro followed his opening-round 63 with a 6-over-par 78 on Friday. Only five players in the field had a worse round.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Roberto Castro’s stay atop the leaderboard at The Players was short-lived.

The 27-year-old Castro, who shot 9-under-par on Thursday, followed the round of his life with one to forget. He shot 6-over 78 in the second round Friday and dropped into a tie for 29th.

Despite the stumble, his outlook remained positive.

“I wouldn’t have been embarrassed or felt bad or anything if I would have shot two 76s this week,” Castro said. “It’s a hard golf course. I’m 3-under par and beating 110 of the best players in the world through 36 holes. So I just kept telling myself, ‘it’s not easy, it’s not easy, it’s not easy.’”

Only five golfers – Derek Ernst, Brian Harman, George McNeill, Greg Owen and Y.E. Yang – had worse second rounds than Castro.

Castro, though, preferred to focus on his finish. After making a birdie, five bogeys and a double through 12 holes, he settled down and made six consecutive pars.

“It was huge,” he said. “I was 6-over par and sitting there looking at 16, 17 and 18. I saw (Thursday) every hole on the course is hard, so it was nice to finish with six really solid holes.”

HEADED HOME: Eleven former major winners, including Vijay Singh, headed home after missing the cut at The Players. Fourteen other major winners advanced to the third round.

Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Geoff Ogilvy, David Toms, Keegan Bradley and Y.E. Yang joined Singh in getting the weekend off.

Singh sued the PGA Tour on Wednesday for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule” during a 12-week investigation into his use of deer antler spray.

EAGLE SIGHTINGS: The par-4 18th has historically been the toughest hole on the Stadium Course.

And it’s playing that way again this week – but not without a couple of historic exceptions.

After surrendering just two eagles over the previous 31 years during The Players, the finishing hole has given up two in as many days. Marc Leishman accomplished the feat Friday, holing out with a wedge from 172 yards away. Jason Dufner carded an eagle there Thursday.

“As soon as I hit it, it looked like it was pretty good, and it was it pretty good,” Leishman said.

STREAK ENDS: The PGA Tour’s longest active streak of cuts ended Friday when Billy Horschel put two balls in the water on No. 18. Horschel had made 23 consecutive cuts. He shot 71 in the second round, finished at 3 over and missed the cut by three strokes.

“It’s a new learning situation,” Horschel said. “I should have made the cut. The mistakes I made were just simple mistakes. Obviously, I didn’t make enough birdies to offset them like I have in the past.”

DIVOTS: Dustin Johnson (lower back) and Colt Knost (neck, spine) withdrew before the second round with injuries. ... The tournament encountered some parking issues Friday, with spectators getting turned away from full lots. Gorgeous weather and an increase in tickets put up for sale resulted in an estimated record crowd for the second round at TPC Sawgrass.

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