Be honest now. This time last year, were you aware of the golfing exploits of Wyndham Clark? His name sounded more like someone who starred alongside John Wayne and James Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

At the Players Championship of 2023, Clark was 116th on the world rankings and was hardly a regular at the sharp end of PGA Tour leaderboards.

In the space of a few weeks, though, Clark had notched a maiden win in the Wells Fargo Championship and then claimed a first major title in the US Open.

Here in 2024, the 30-year-old is fifth in the world and is very much on course to add the Players Championship title to a burgeoning cv.

His second successive seven-under 65 over the Stadium course yesterday saw him set a sizzling pace in the clubhouse at 14-under as he accelerated away from the pack with the kind of surge that just about left tyre marks on the Sawgrass turf. The message was clear. Catch me if you can. Well, it was by the time we all went to print on this side of the pond.

Clark had been ambling along at one-under-par through nine holes of a second round that had started on the 10th. But he thundered up through the gears with four birdies in a row at the start of his inward half as he charged home in just 30 blows.

"More than anything, I'm just super excited that I kind of had a ho-hum front nine and then turned and really just got into a nice zone and felt really good on the greens and shot an awesome number," said Clark.

The myriad trials and tribulations that come with trying to get a little dimpled ball into a small hole can leave all and sundry grinding their teeth into powdered stumps.

In the Players Championship a year ago, Clark was feeling decidedly blue on the greens. “I would say the low point actually was here last year,” he added of his form on the putting surfaces.

Clark started to try the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter – you’ve possibly watched wee Norrie wield one to fine effect in the winter stableford at Palacerigg – and it seems the switch has, well, got him out of jail.

"When I switched to that Jailbird putter, I started really seeing a lot of putts go in," the Ryder Cup player said. "All the work that I did off the course in my mental game, I started seeing it on the course because I started making putts. So that's probably the biggest thing: combining the mental game with making putts. Now I've been shooting some good scores." If only we could all do that, eh?

As Clark made purposeful strides into a position of authority, Scottie Scheffler, the reigning champion and current world No 1, muddled on through his round with a sair neck to stay in the hunt at eight-under.

Scheffler, who his aiming to become the first man in the 50-year history of the Players Championship to claim back-to-back titles, posted a battling three-under 69 despite being hindered by a niggling ailment.

The 27-year-old, fresh from a five-shot romp to victory in last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, had to get some on-course physio and the 2022 Masters champion is still hoping he can be a pain in the neck to those ahead of him over the last 36-holes.

“I hit a shot on my second hole today and I felt a little something in my neck,” explained Scheffler, who started his second round on the 10th tee “Then I tried to hit my tee shot on 12 and that’s when I could barely get the club back. So I got some treatment.

“It was a good fight. The way my neck was feeling, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue playing. But I did what I could to stay in the tournament and hopefully it’ll loosen up and then I’ll be able to make normal swings.”

At one point of day two, Yorkshireman Matt Fitzpatrick had held the lead but his offensive was halted when he found the water with his approach to his 13th hole and racked up a double-bogey. Fitzpatrick finished on nine-under but is still well placed.

“Another couple of six-under rounds over the weekend and you never know what can happen,” he reasoned.

There’s plenty of golf to be played yet.