Tiger Woods pulled it together after an opening-round 75 to survive the cut for the 120th straight tournament. Woods, who had not shot an under-par round since last Thursday at Bay Hill, buckled down on Friday with a 69 at the TPC at Sawgrass.
'I play the same way whether I'm shooting 82 or a 62. I play the same way,' said Woods, who finished at even-par 144. 'It's not like I'm trying any harder. I'm trying just the same.'
He started on the back side of the Stadium Course and redeemed himself early with a remarkable second shot at the par-5 11th that stopped within 10 feet of the cup.
Woods drained the eagle putt and dropped his approach inside nine feet for a birdie at the very next hole.
The 28-year-old squandered a shot with a bogey at the 18th but almost chipped in for an eagle at the par-5 second.
Woods tapped in for birdie and parred his way in to make the weekend once again.
'I really felt that I scored today,' said Woods. 'I didn't hit the ball as well as I probably needed to, but I scored and that's the name of the game.'
Sutherland, who missed the cut in three of five previous appearances at this event, picked up his first birdie of the day at the second and hit his second shot to seven feet for a birdie at the fifth to reach 8 under.
The 39-year-old added a birdie at the 10th before finding trouble with a bogey at the 14th. Sutherland was scrambling again at the par-4 15th but chipped in from a bunker for a birdie en route to a round of 69.
'I wasn't coming here expecting to have the lead after two rounds, but I did come here expecting to play well,' said Sutherland. 'The first two rounds I pretty much made just about everything I've looked at. I've just got to keep that going.'
Kelly, who held the lead heading into the final round of the 2001 Players Championship, played the back nine first and collected four birdies before the turn to make his move up the leaderboard.
He added a birdie at the second and ran home a long birdie putt at the fifth to match Sutherland at minus-9.
'It was just a par-saving day,' said Kelly, who has yet to record a bogey this week. 'And that's the kind of mentality you have coming to the Players.'
Scott also started on the 10th and collected six consecutive pars before stumbling to a bogey at the 16th.
The young Australian countered with a birdie at the imposing par-3 17th and reached 8 under with a birdie at the par-3 third after his tee shot stopped within three feet of the cup.
Scott gave that shot back immediately with a bogey at the fourth to finish two shots off the pace.
'If I'm within two of the lead again tomorrow, I'll be pretty happy with that, giving myself a chance for Sunday,' said Scott, who carded a 72. 'But hopefully I go out and play really well and get in the lead and put myself in perfect shape come Sunday.'
Padraig Harrington, who held the 36-hole lead at this event last year, carded a 70 to join Vijay Singh in a tie for fifth at 6-under-par 138.
Phil Mickelson posted a 69 to finish one shot further back at 5-under-par 139 along with Jeff Sluman, Duffy Waldorf and Bob Burns.
Defending champion Davis Love III made a push to qualify for the weekend with a 68 on Friday to finish in a tie for 54th at 1-over-par 145.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 146 with 83 players making the grade. Among those who fell short were Stuart Appleby, David Toms and Mike Weir.