Day sets record to claim four-shot halfway lead at Players

Reuters News
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Posted: May 14, 2016 12:10 PM

(Reuters) - Jason Day broke the 36-hole Players Championship tournament record held by fellow Australian Greg Norman as he opened up a four-shot lead after the second round on Saturday.

The world number one, who had to complete four holes due to a Friday weather delay, picked up where he left off but on a pleasant morning at the Sawgrass TPC Stadium Course.

Day made a 15-foot birdie at the par-four 15th, his third in a row stretching back to Friday, before finishing with pars for a six-under 66.

He chipped close to the pin at the last, tapped in for par and posted a 15-under 129 halfway total, one-shot better than the previous mark set in 1994 by Norman, who went on to win the tournament by four shots.

Day’s lead also set a record for the biggest lead after 36-holes.

Irishman Shane Lowry (68), who had the luxury of sleeping in while 33 players returned to finish the round, stood alone in second place on 11-under.

“Thirty-six hole scoring record is nice but I can’t lose focus now. I’ve got to knuckle down and keep pushing forward,” Day told Golf Channel.

“I’d like to say I’m confident but I’m really trying to focus on doing the right things out there. The greens are very firm out there already. I’m assuming scores won’t be as low as we’ve seen over the first two days.”

It was not a good morning for Jordan Spieth. In his first start since his late meltdown at last month’s Masters, Spieth struggled with his swing and his attitude and missed the cut by one stroke, a birdie at the last too little, too late.

The Texan had terse words with his caddie Michael Greller several times during the round, clearly frustrated by his performance.

"Everybody has off putting weeks," said Spieth, who said he had put in little short game preparation for the event.

"If I putt anywhere near the standard I normally putt, I'm at six-or-seven under.

"I'm beating myself up a little too much on the course and it's affecting me. I realize that now," he added.

"I need to be a little bit more positive with myself on the course and maybe lower expectations a little bit and free myself up. It seems I'm so tense."

Fellow Americans Phil Mickelson and defending champion Rickie Fowler also missed the cut by one stroke, Mickelson making an early exit for the fourth straight year.

While Spieth, Mickelson and Fowler packed their bags, Day had a couple of hours to prepare for the third round.

He has not driven the ball particularly straight but has mostly avoided big trouble off the tee, before taking advantage of the soft course conditions by aggressively firing his approach shot at the pins.

Seventy-six players made the cut, which fell at two-under 142.

The third round started late on Saturday morning and was expected to finish on schedule late in the afternoon.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Ken Ferris)