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Jason Day moves closer at the Players

Day overcomes injury issues to contend again at the Players (Photo: Getty Images)
Jason Day has moved within striking distance of the lead at the Players Championship after his second round of 66 moved him into a share of 7th position, an improvement of 28 places from his opening 70.

Day birdied four of his last eight holes on day two to move him within four of the joint leaders, Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy, although he is just one shot behind 3rd placed Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter, Brian Harman and Australian Open champion Abraham Ancer.

Day, who won this event in 2015, was forced to withdraw from last week’s Arnold Palmer Championship with back issues but it appears the treatment he has received in the meantime has worked very well indeed and he confirmed as much after his round.

“Obviously I know how much it hurt last week, but then given the injections and the cortisone and all that stuff that went in there, I know that we have hit the spot because I can't feel a thing, which is good. I don't want to be out there playing golf and know that I -- that it hurts.

“So I just needed to prep as well as I could, and I feel like taking that extra time off Friday through Sunday and then getting here on Sunday night and practicing Monday through Wednesday, I feel like I gave myself enough prep, and unfortunately it would have been nice to have been able to play Bay Hill, but I can't force the issue because it is mid-season."

Interestingly Day was asked if he ever thinks about what might have been if a series of injuries had not plagued his career.

“No, no, I mean, I don't think I've ever -- I can't think of a tournament where I've been injured other than the vertigo -- man, I got so many things going on -- I don't know.

“I'm tired just thinking about it now. But, yeah, no, I don't, I typically got a pretty short memory and I don't think, yeah, I could have, I finished better in some tournaments, but no need to now, I mean I've got, unfortunately, got the body that I got and I just got to go with it.”

Adam Scott is in a share of 10th place after his round of 69 to be at 5 under and seven shots from the lead, while Cameron Smith, who began his round with three early birdies, eventually finished with 70 to be two shots inside the cut-line and in 57th place.

Marc Leishman and Aaron Baddeley have both missed the weekend.

Joint leader, Fleetwood, finished 7th in his second start in the event last year and finished an impressive 3rd last week in Orlando so there was a lot to like about his chances this week as the Englishman looks to win his very first title in the US.

Fleetwood was asked how much the prospect of his first win is occupying his thoughts.

“Not that much. You know, it's an obvious next step in my career, and I know the more good golf I play, the more it gets talked about, but that's a good thing, that I'm kind of expected to make that step.

“At the end of the day, I'm doing what I love, and I love being out in America playing in massive tournaments, and everything is going really, really well. Hopefully the win will just be a result of things to come.

“Could have happened already; it hasn't. But no, I don't think about it a lot. Honestly, I enjoy getting better at the game and I enjoy competing week in, week out. I would love to win more. Everybody would. But like I say, hopefully that will just be a result of things that come.”

McIlroy’s recent consistent form continued a home nine of 31 drawing him level with Fleetwood late in his round. He does not enjoy a great record at the TPC Sawgrass but he is in such good form at present he may well be being considered by many as the man now to beat.

Like Fleetwood, however, he was not putting too much emphasis on the prospect of a win.

“I just need to keep seeing red numbers,” said the man form Northern Ireland. “That's all I need to keep seeing. I don't need a win. I'm not putting myself under pressure to -- again, winning is a by-product of doing all the things that I'm doing well. If you look at my driving stats, how I'm hitting my irons, all that adds up to hopefully shooting the best score or the lowest score of the week.

“So that's how I need to approach it. It's not -- if I just focus on winning, what goes into that? That's the end goal, but there's so many different little mini-goals you need to accomplish to get to that point.”




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