Ryan Palmer has 67-69 at Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Palmer maintained his focus Friday, turning in another strong round at The Players Championship after learning that his best friend, Clay Aderholt, had died in a car accident in San Antonio.

The two grew up together in Amarillo, Texas, and attended Texas A&M.

Palmer, 36, shot a 3-under 69 on Friday after posting a 67 in the first round. He chipped in for eagle at the ninth and 11th holes, two reachable par 5s on the Pete Dye-designed Stadium course, in his second round. Palmer, 36 and a three-time winner on tour, is three shots back of Sergio Garcia's lead with the afternoon groups still on the course.

"My mind was good today, all things considered, but it's great to feel good to be in contention here at this tournament, where I've struggled," Palmer said. "I am excited about the weekend."

Palmer said he never considered withdrawing from the tournament.

"I talked to some close friends, and nothing I can really do except keep [Clay] in my prayers and memories and just keep playing golf," Palmer said.

In seven previous appearances at TPC Sawgrass, Palmer has made only one cut, in 2007, when he finished in a tie for 75th.