The Players: Jason Day feels ‘not far away’ from old world No 1 form after strong start at TPC Sawgrass | Golf News
Jason Day carded back-to-back rounds of 70 to head into the weekend on four under at TPC Sawgrass; Viktor Hovland also in contention at The Players; Watch throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports Golf
By Ali Stafford at TPC Sawgrass
Last Updated: 10/03/23 8:19pm
Jason Day believes his game is nearing the standard that took him to the top of the world rankings after continuing his impressive run of form at The Players.
The Australian spent a total of 51 weeks as world No 1 across three separate spells between 2015 and 2017, although the former major champion is without a PGA Tour victory in nearly five years and started the year outside the world’s top 100.
Day opened his year with a tied-18th finish at The American Express and has since added four consecutive top-10s on the PGA Tour, most recently at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, then made an encouraging start to the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
The 35-year-old mixed five birdies with a bogey and a double-bogey during a second-round 70 at TPC Sawgrass, where he won in 2016, with Day now in contention to become the first two-time winner of The Players since Tiger Woods.
“I’m coming off the back end of some really good golf, which is nice,” Day said post-round. “I’ve got Chris Como, my coach here this week, so trying to help me through some of the swing stuff that I have been struggling with. I feel like that stuff is coming around nicely.
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“I wasn’t quite happy with how I was hitting it over the last few tournaments, but did a really good job of leaving myself in the correct positions and then getting up-and-down, and my putter has improved drastically since the last two years.
“They were all positives because obviously I’m losing strokes to the field last week at Bay Hill with approach to the green and finished inside of top 10. If I can tidy that stuff up and still keep the putting the way it is, I’m not going to be too far away.
“I would like to give myself a modest five (out of 10). I just feel like the level of golf that the three guys are playing right now up in the top of the world rankings, the way they’re playing, it’s very difficult to beat. I feel like if I can keep putting in the work, hopefully it’ll pay off over time.”
Hovland “frustrated” by costly finish
Viktor Hovland also heads into the weekend on four under, despite dropping four shots over the last six holes of his second-round 71 on Friday.
Hovland followed an opening-hole birdie by converting from 15 feet at the 14th for the first of three consecutive birdies, with the world No 11 firing his approach to tap-in range at the next and taking advantage of the par-five 16th.
The Norwegian scrambled to save par at the 17th after clearing the hazard by a matter of inches and briefly moved alongside overnight leader Chad Ramey when he picked up a shot at the par-five second, only to follow a double-bogey at the fourth with further bogeys at the fifth and eighth.
“Obviously in a good spot, but pretty disappointed I didn’t finish it off today because I played some really, really good golf,” Hovland said. “Yeah, it’s frustrating with that finish.
“I was just hitting it really well, hitting a lot of fairways, hitting a lot of greens. I hit a lot of really nice iron shots to close and give myself a lot of looks and made a couple nice putts on top of that. Had it going [until the end].”
Watch The Players throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 12.30pm via the red button on Sky Sports Golf, ahead of coverage on the front channel from 2pm. Extra feeds and groups are also available via the red button.