There are 37 players remaining in the weekend field of the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans who need to win to get into The Players Championship in two weeks.
But nearly half of them are on teams that have a fighting chance at the TPC Louisiana -- including a member of the team in first place following Friday's second round.
Cameron Smith of Australia, who drew notice when he tied for fourth in the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, has teamed up with Jonas Blixt of Ponte Vedra Beach to grab the lead after the two shot 62 in a better-ball format to finish at 15-under-par 129.
Also within range of the victory he would need to get to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass May 11-14 is Charlie Wi, and his partner knows what it takes to win The Players -- K.J. Choi, who captured the tournament in 2011 in a playoff.
Wi and Choi are tied for third at 13-under, two shots off the lead.
Another player with area ties is among a large group tied for fifth at 12-under. Chris Stroud, who lived in Brunswick, Ga., at one time and employs former University of North Florida player John Limanti as his caddie, also is among that group at 12-under with partner Brian Stuard, the winner of the Zurich Classic last year when it was an individual stroke-play event.
Chris Stroud wasn't on the green for a birdie putt. Then he was. https://t.co/Ybi45s2z58— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) April 28, 2017
Also looking for a return to the TPC Sawgrass for the first time since 2013 is Bud Cauley, who is playing with former Alabama teammate Justin Thomas. They're in a tie for 14th at 10-under.
There are 10 teams in which both partners need a victory to get to The Players, led by Tag Ridings and Xander Schauffele, who are at 12-under. Other teams in which neither partners is qualified for The Players are two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Julian Etulain (11-under, tied for 11th), former Univiersity of Florida star Camilo Villegas and Morgan Hoffmann (10-under, tied for 14th) and past U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and European Ryder Cup standout Ian Poulter (9-under, tied for 23rd).
There are 17 players on teams within five shots of Blixt and Smith who are not yet in The Players.
The only direct way to get into The Players field is to be part of the winning team this week or win next week's Wells Fargo Championship in Wilmington, N.C.
Players can move up on the 2016-2017 FedEx Cup points list, from which alternates will be drawn. If the Players field dips below 144 because of withdrawals or injuries, the alternates can make the field.
Leading that list is currently Ollie Schneiderjans, who made the cut on the 7-under number at Zurich with partner Richy Werenski.
WIN AND THEY'RE IN
Teams at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans in which one of both partners need to win this week to get into The Players Championship May 11-14 at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, and their standing in the tournament entering Saturday's third round. Players in bold-face are already qualified for The Players:
1. Jonas Blixt-Cameron Smith 15-under
T3. K.J. Choi-Charlie Wi 13-under
T5. Brian Stuard-Chris Stroud 12-under
T5. Alex Cejka-Soren Kjeldsen 12-under
T5. Charley Hoffman-Nick Watney 12-under
T5. Xander Schauffele-Tag Ridings 12-under
T5. Kyle Stanley-Ryan Ruffels 12-under
T11. Angel Cabrera-Julian Etulain 11-under
T11. Tyrone Van Aswegen-Retief Goosen 11-under
T14. Morgan Hoffmann-Camilo Villegas 10-under
T14. Justin Thomas-Bud Cauley 10-under
T14. Freddie Jacobson-Will Wilcox 10-under
T14. Brooks Koepka-Chase Koepka 10-under
T14. Kelly Kraft-Kevin Tway 10-under
T23. Geoff Ogilvy-Ian Poulter 9-under
T23. Andrew Loupe-John Peterson 9-under
T27. Michael Kim-Brandon Hagy 8-under
T27. Mark Hubbard-Jonathan Randolph 8-under
T27. J.J. Henry-Tom Hoge 8-under
T27. Wesley Bryan-Ryan Blaum 8-under
T27. Dominic Bozelli-J.T. Poston 8-under
T32. Ricky Barnes-Matt Jones 7-under
T32. Michael Thompson-Tim Wilkinson 7-under
T32. Martin Flores-Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano 7-under
T32. Greyson Murray-Cameron Percy 7-under
T32. Kyle Reifers-Andrew Johnston 7-under
T32. Ollie Schneiderjans-Richy Werenski 7-under
This article is written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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