Bruce Lietzke backed up his opening-round 66 with a 3-under-par 69 Friday to take a two-shot lead over David Frost at the midway point of the $1.35-million Players Championship.

Lietzke, a 15-year PGA Tour veteran who needs to finish at least third this week to become the 10th golfer to reach the $3 million mark in career earnings, was at 9-under-par 135 after 36 holes.Lietzke was tied with Frost after both had played 15 holes Friday. But Frost bogeyed two of his last three holes to wind up at 71 and 137 overall.

Lietzke and Frost began Friday tied for second with Steve Pate, one shot behind Keith Clearwater, who soared to a 76 in the second round after opening with a 65.

Lietzke, who missed the cut in both the 1987 and 1988 TPCs, said his biggest concern was a 45-minute fog delay Friday morning that had him finishing at dusk.

Fred Couples, who won the TPC in 1984, was a shot behind Frost after two late birdies gave him a 70-138. Chip Beck, the Tour's No. 2 money winner last year when he earned $927,000, had a 68 Friday and, at 5-under 139, was in an eight-way tie for fourth.