Day hits his tee shot at the 9th – click to open – Photo courtesy of PGA of America
Jason Day might have lost his share of the lead at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park near San Francisco, but he is well placed heading into the weekend of the first major of the year.
Day’s second round of 69 has him two behind the leader, Haotong Li, and tied for second place with Tommy Fleetwood, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Mike Lorenzo Vera.
After three early birdies, Day had a share of the lead with Li, who had started his second round early, before a messy double bogey at the lengthy par 4 12th hole. He had chances to regain that lost ground in his closing holes but the putter deserted him.
He is, however, very well positioned with Li leading an event of this nature for the first time and the prospect of becoming China’s first male major championship winner, a huge task for the 25-year old.
Leader, Haotong Li – the weight of China’s expectations on his shoulders over the weekend.
“The course played a little bit — obviously a lot harder today for us in the afternoon,” said Day. “I know that the guys got a lot stronger wind yesterday. So to be able to walk off beating the golf course and shooting 69 today, I was pretty pleased with that.
“It’s a big golf course. It’s a big-boy golf course. The strange thing is when we have the southwesterly wind there’s a lot of side-wind golf shots, so you have to really control your ball flight.
“The greens, I think the last time we were here, they had a little bit more poa annua and they were a little more bumpy, but the green surfaces are playing tremendous. They are starting to get that little purple dry look to them, and with this wind, it’s definitely difficult.
“Obviously 12 was a bit of a mess. Wish I could have at least bogeyed that instead of doubled it, but overall, I gave myself plenty of opportunities coming in and just didn’t capitalize on them like I did yesterday.
“So, shooting 69 today, moving in the right direction, which is nice, if I can do that over the weekend, maybe shoot a couple more over the Saturday and Sunday round, hopefully I’m there; Sunday in contention.
“But the game feels good. I’m excited to come out and play every single day. I’m just going to try to tidy up the driving a little bit on the range and try to hole some more putts tomorrow if I can.”
Adam Scott stayed in touch with a round of 70 after being unable to take full advantage of an early tee time on day two. He mentioned after his round that he never felt he was moving forward.
“It was a bit of a mixed bag,” said Scott. “I guess overall my iron play wasn’t very good today, and my scrambling was pretty good. But a round where I never really had the momentum.
“I drove it a lot better than yesterday, which I was happy about, but I just couldn’t get it in there close enough to have really good looks at birdie, and I missed a few extra greens from the fairway, which is kind of not really my style.
“It was a bit of a grind. I’m definitely going to have to find my rhythm with my irons over the weekend.”
In Scott’s defence, it was just his second competitive round in five months so he has importantly kept himself in the mix for a possible run over the final 36 holes on a golf course that appears as if it will become even more demanding.
Of the other Australians, Cameron Smith improved with a second round of 60 to be at even par and tied for 44th while Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Lucas Herbert will have the weekend off.