Simpson continued his extraordinary play Saturday to increase his lead in the tournament to seven shots but should he falter in the final round Day is among the chasing pack and capable of producing the sort of round it will likely take to reel Simpson in.
A joint holder of the course record of 63 at the famed Pete Dye design, Day will be in an aggressive frame of mind over the final 18 holes as he tries to apply pressure to the leader.
At 9-under through 54 holes the 2016 winner is a full 10 shots behind but is T4 on the leaderboard and just three strokes out of second place.
He is two ahead of the only other two Australians to make the cut, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, though New Zealand’s Danny Lee is outright second at 12-under and will play the final pairing alongside Simpson.
“Obviously it all depends on how Webb finishes,” Day said of his chances of a second Players title after his round.
“He's playing some really good golf right now. Obviously very in control of what he's doing from tee to green and he's putting really well.
“So it's a pretty good combination around this golf course. His whole setup is actually quite nice. He's long enough but he's not quite long enough to be super, super aggressive and it's clearly paying off with him.”
Day said he felt he could have been closer but for a couple of mistakes added to some breaks not going his way.
“I just didn't capitalise on the opportunities I had,” he said. “I had a lip out on 9, a lip out on 10, both for birdies.
“And then didn't birdie 12 and didn't birdie 16. Made a poor bogey - actually I didn't make a poor bogey on 15, I hit a good shot down there, landed eight short of the pin, took a really hard bounce, kicked over into the back and then just had an awkward stance.”
While admitting it was a long shot Day said a low round was possible and he would be mapping out a strategy for the course ahead of Sunday’s final round.
“The stars have to align,” he said when asked if another 63 was possible.
“I'm going to see where the pin locations are tonight I'll look at the PGA TOUR Link, get the locations, see what I can actually go at and what I can't go at, because there's some locations that you just can't physically get to because of how hard the greens are getting.
“So that's when you got to rely on hitting it out and be patient and hopefully knock one of those two or two or three 30 footers in where you really don't have a chance of getting in, really. But, yeah, I think that I just got to look at the locations and see how they go.”
Leishman and Scott are too far back to be considered realistic chances though both will take plenty of confidence from good play for the week.
Leishman’s 67 was his best of the week and included a five birdie back nine as he climbed 39 spots on the leaderboard.
Scott will be less pleased with his even par 72 which featured three bogeys and three birdies though the last of those, which came at the difficult 18th, will have lifted his spirits.
IS SLOW PLAY A PROBLEM IN PROFESSIONAL GOLF?
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