Day crushes Bay Hill on day two of Arnold Palmer
Orlando, Florida: Jason Day continued to fuel his burning passion to get back to World No. 1 with a second straight show of strength on day two of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Day went to lunch savouring a five shot lead at 13-under par before Sweden’s Henrik Stenson narrowed that to just two with England’s Justin Rose a shot further back.
It has been six months since Day stormed to the pinnacle of the rankings on the back of his six-shot success in the FedEx Cup Play-Off Series BMW Championship at Conway Way Farms in suburban Chicago.
Indeed, Day was an unstoppable World No. 1 towards the later half of 2015 steam-rolling his way to the top on the back of four victories in six tournaments.
However his time on the throne was short-lived with Day hardly getting time to warm the seat before being bumped back to No. 2 and now currently ranking at World No. 3 competing this week in in suburban Orlando.
“The ultimate goal this year I guess is to try and get back there and, you know, I hate playing bad golf, I really do,” he said.
“That’s why I work really hard and the only way I know to get back to No. 1 in the world is to win tournaments and I enjoy the process of going through the work and going through stuff like this and embracing it because it’s only making me better the more times I put myself here and it’s making myself stronger as a player, as a person going forward.”
“I think, you know, like you say, I really didn’t find much clarity with being No. 1 because I wasn’t there very long.”
“I kind of stopped straight away but if I can get back there again this year that would be fantastic.”
“That’s the ultimate goal to get back there and if I can do that, then try and stay there as long as I can.”
“So I would love to go on like a Rory McIlroy run where he was there for a number of years and then, you know, instead of just being there for four weeks and just being around that top spot.”
Of course, with victory this week in suburban Orlando he could bump Rory McIlroy out of World No. 2 given there is just .1666 of a World Ranking point separating the duo while there is 1.7710 points between Day and World No. 1 Jordan Spieth.
So a victory at Bay Hill and success next week in the Texas capital of Austin, and venue for the WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship, could see Day heading to the Masters as World No. 1
Surprisingly, when Day first went to No. 1 in the world via his BMW Championship triumph he had led after 36-holes in suburban north Chicago.
Day looked in a class all of his own calmly picking off seven birdies in sweltering conditions in a round of 65 to jump to 13-under par in the $US 6.2m event.
It is the Queensland golfer’s lowest Arnold Palmer round, albeit a shot better than his starting 66 but then three strokes fewer than a prior Bay Hill best of a pair of 68s on day three in 2013 and then a similar score to end his efforts a year ago in ending T17.
And it was not until around 5pm local time Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, courtesy of a 66, bridged Day’s lead to just two shots while England’s Justin Rose, also with a 66, is in third place a shot behind Stenson on 11-under par.
Day has been dynamic off the tee hitting 19 of 28 fairways over the two rounds and 25 of 36 greens-in-regulation, and once on the putting surfaces he’s posted 22 putts on Thursday and five more on day two, to be averaging 24.5 putts per round.
“It was great and I felt like I couldn’t do anything kind of wrong out there which was good and was driving it nice and was driving it really long,” he said.
“I had several shot to hit a lot of greens and I putted fantastic today.
“So to hole 125 feet of putts was fantastic and the putt on nine definitely helped that along and the one on 17. But I was very, very pleased. My goal was to try and stay patient but still aggressive and it worked out over the last two days.”
Day commenced his round at six under par having broken a shot clear of a five-under par log-jam atop of the board.
He moved to seven under par with a birdie at the 12th hole or the third of his round and then grabbed back-to-back birdies at his seventh and eighth hole, and then heading into his homeward half with birdies at 12, 14, 15 and the last where, after missing the fairway right, Day hit a 179-yard shot from the rough to 36-feet and holed the birdie putt from behind the flag.
And while most would believe Day is currently seeing the hole as a big as a proverbial bucket, he disagreed.
“It may look easy on the outside but it’s not,” he said smiling.
“There are certain shots out there, certain second shots out there I really have to kind of bare down and make sure that I hit the correct shot out there, and if you just have that one little lapse in concentration that could be the swing of momentum where you’re making a bogey or a double bogey out there and instead of being 13-under you’re back at 10.
“But, I’m seeing the shots, hitting the shots and they’re coming out exactly how I’m seeing them and, you know, once I get on the green the surface is so pure that, you know, I’m just seeing the line and it’s going in, which is great. I mean 13, like I said 13, 14-under is usually average that, wins the tournament around here.
“I’m there already so I just got to be patient because I know I think we’re going off in threesomes tomorrow early in the morning and finishing at 3:00 so that tells me there’s some weather coming in and that might bring in some wind.”
“So, you know, days like that are very trying. I got to be patient with myself.”