IT was a case of what might have been for World Number One Jason Day who finds himself five shots off the pace at the halfway stage of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii after a frustrating Friday on the greens.
Day, returning from a break of more than three months after an ongoing back injury cut his 2016 season short, played some brilliant golf on day two at The Plantation Course at Kapalua but failed to hole any significant putts on his way to a 4-under 69.
His 7-under total for the 36 holes has him in a four way share of 11th five shots behind joint leaders Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore who have both fired back to back rounds of 67.
But the World Number One is pleased with his overall game after giving himself several birdie chances and while he is yet to convert many of his opportunities is optimistic heading to the weekend.
FLASHBACK TO JASON DAY AS AN AMATEUR:
“I just have to keep giving myself the opportunities,” he told reporters after his round.
“Obviously it's there. Even though I have taken the time off, it's there for the taking; if I can take those opportunities.
“You know, it all happens on the weekend. I should give it a good run. I feel good about my game.”
Day closed with an 11-under 62 at this tournament two years ago when he finished one shot out of a playoff between Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker and is hoping for similar fireworks at the weekend.
“If we have good weather like this over the next two days, obviously it could yield a lot of birdies out here,” he said.
“Get yourself in good position off the tee and you get your wedges dialed in
“You can have a lot of short clubs coming into the greens and if get yourself on the right side of the hole straight uphill into the grain, you can be aggressive at it and try and hole as many as you can.”
Overnight leader Jimmy Walker posted a credible second round of 3-under 70 but was overtaken by Thomas and Moore who stand 12-under with 36 holes to play.
Walker shares third with fellow American Patrick Reed who, playing with Day, matched Walker’s Thursday score of 8-under 65 on his way to 11-under for the tournament.
Co-leader Thomas said after his round he was particularly pleased with his position given less than stellar iron play.
The 23-year-old has made just one bogey over the first two days and says he feels he is maximizing his chances.
“I haven't been playing as well as the scores show, so that's always a positive,” he said bluntly after his round.
“It's frustrating sometimes when you're playing well and you're not getting much out of it, but I feel like I'm really getting a lot out of my game.
“I'm just not hitting my irons as well as I'd like, so it's been nice to get around here with only one bogey so far.”
Thomas’ co -leader Ryan Moore says he will be staying aggressive over the final two rounds expecting the scoring to continue to be hot.
“This golf course, you need to make birdies,” he said.” That's all there is to it. I mean, it gets close to 20-ish (under par) every single year, and you know it's going to be around that.
“I'm sitting at 12. I know I have a ways to go to get to that point.
“Obviously the guys that are around me are obviously great players and they have won tournaments on the PGA TOUR to be here and are playing well this week already.
“So it will be interesting to see if the wind stays down or if it changes or it changes the course a little bit.
“You kind of wait till you show up to the course every day to see how it's going to play. I'm looking forward to it and it's fun to be in contention going into the weekend the first tournament out the gate this year.”
While Day leads the Australian charge Rod Pampling continues to impress adding a 2-under 71 to his opening 69 to be 6-under for the tournament and T15.
Greg Chalmers and Aaron Baddeley are both T22 at 3-under for the week after posting rounds of 72 and 73 respectively.
MARK GIBSON TALKS THE IMPORTANCE OF COURSE MANAGEMENT: