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Jason Day stakes claim at PGA Championship

Day on track for another fine PGA Championship. (Photo: Getty Images)
Earlier this week Jason Day served notice to all and sundry that his game was getting back to where he wanted it to be and that he was not yet prepared to give up on what had been, to date, a disappointing 2017.

Today he was as good as his word with a second round of 66 at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club and as he heads into the weekend he trails leaders Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Kisner by just two shots.

Day is currently alone in third position but it might just be that once the remainder of the field has completed the round on Saturday morning, following a suspension for darkness, he is either joined or headed by one or two of the players yet to finish their round, more especially Chris Stroud who is one behind Day with five holes yet to play.

Either way Day’s mojo is back and as he heads into the final 36 holes he appears to be at least one of the men to beat.

"My confidence level hasn’t been as high as it should have been over this past year with how I have putted and driven the ball,” said Day.

“Putting is huge for me and gives me a lot of confidence. If I am putting well I feel like I can get into anywhere and get up and down. Until now I haven’t had the greatest putting year and it has kind of affected me and trickled into other parts of my game but today I was quite pleased.

“Instead of worrying about where it was going, my swing and my putting I was able to just focus on the score today and what I need to do to get better and better (on the leaderboard).”

Day completed his round in darkness, the horn suspending play for the day having sounded a few minutes earlier when on the 17th green. His playing partner, Dustin Johnson, rushed ahead to hit his tee shot at the 18th to ensure his group could finish, as they were allowed to do provided one player had begun the hole before the siren had sounded.     

Day hit a brilliant tee shot and an approach to 15 feet at the last and although he failed to convert he will enjoy an extra few hours of sleep on Saturday morning as those players unable to complete round two have a 7.30am tee time tomorrow to do so.

Instead of being up at perhaps 5.00 am to ready himself for an uncompleted second round at that early hour, Day will now be amongst the final two groups and so will enjoy perhaps seven hours of additional rest ahead of what promises to be an exciting third round.  

Day’s early play on day two, however, did not suggest what was about to unfold, a bogey at the 3rd hole after a wild drive having him on the back foot early. Then would came a stretch of holes that might yet prove crucial in the final outcome on Sunday afternoon.

Day said in Wednesday’s media conference that his club-head speed had returned and there was no better evidence of that today than when he smashed a 341 yard drive at the 7th hole and followed that up with 7 iron which finished a foot from the hole for an eagle and he was on his way.

Birdies followed at the 8th, 9th and 10th and with a run of 5-under in four holes he was at 5-under and three from the lead which Kevin Kisner had established several hours earlier.

Then came the weather delay for just under two hours. Day returned to finish his round off strongly however, despite a bogey at the 11th on his first hole back from the break.

He would then birdie the 13th and 14th and although he missed a great opportunity for another at the 15th when he pitched close enough at the par-5 but missed a very makelable putt, he parred in to record his round of 66 and is nicely placed to win his second major championship.

Marc Leishman recovered from an opening round of 75, which threatened his chances of playing the weekend, by recording a round of even par 71 on day two to move well inside the cutline at 4 over.

The highlights of Leishman’s round came at the 250 yard par-3 4th hole where he pitched in from off the green for birdie and at the lengthy par-4 9th where an approach from 200 yards finished 5 feet from the hole.

Adam Scott began his round at the 10th hole and was soon in trouble, a poor tee shot at his 3rd hole leading to a double bogey and just a few holes later he was 4-over for the round and 4-over for the championship.

With the cut-line at that point looking like 4 or 5-over he was in jeopardy of missing the weekend and that became an even greater possibility when he dropped shots at his 10th, 12th and 14th holes and at 7-over he was three outside the cut-line at that point.

He would get up and down for birdie at the par-5 7th hole (his 16th) and then holed a 20-footer for birdie at his final hole of the day and all of a sudden weekend play was a realistic proposition.  

Currently in 70th position, however, Scott will be forced to wait another twelve hours before he learns his fate in terms of playing the weekend or not.

After such a great week in Akron last week, Scott Hend began the event well enough yesterday but with five bogeys in his first 14 holes today he now sits one shot outside the current cut line and has four holes to finish tomorrow morning to establish his place in the weekend field or otherwise.

One of those remaining holes is a reachable par five and so, along with a rest, he has a chance to turn the negative momentum around.

Cameron Smith, Rod Pampling and Stuart Deane were the other Australians to tee it up on Thursday but they will not be around for the weekend, Smith a massive 9-over through 15 holes today and 13-over for the tournament.

Pampling created one of the more interesting moments on day two when he rushed to get his second round completed.

Deane could not break 80 in either round but as a collegiate golf coach in Texas he has a genuine excuse.  












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