Sunday, June 24, 2018
Golf

Jason Day stays in control at Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Jason Day finished with two big birdies as the sky darkened Friday to reach 14 under and stay in firm control of the Players Championship.

Day rolled in a 40-foot putt down the slope on the par-3 13th and then hit a 5-iron into 2 feet on the next hole to stretch his lead to three shots over Shane Lowry on another day of low scoring at TPC Sawgrass.

Greg Norman set the 36-hole record at the Players at 14-under 130 in 1994, the year he made only one bogey the entire week. Day, the first-round leader, looks just as good and has yet to drop a shot over the 32 holes he had played when play was called because of darkness.

A two-hour storm delay meant the second round could not be finished.

"I've got a good lead going on," Day said. "I just can't sit back. I need to keep pushing forward. And the moment that I lose a little bit of focus and make a few mental errors and mistakes, that's when I let the field back in. And I just can't afford to do that.

"Hopefully, I can hit some good, solid shots coming in and at least try to get a couple more birdies."

Lowry finished his round with 68 and was at 11-under 133, a solid round that got going only when he hit a wedge so badly that it didn't each reach the island green at the par-3 17th. He managed to escape with bogey and then holed a wedge from about 180 yards on the 18th hole for eagle.

Another day of calm, soft greens in the morning led to more record-tying performances and a few irritated golfers who could have gone even lower. Colt Knost made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th to reach 10 under, only to three-putt the 18th and have to settle for a course record-tying 63.

"I was a little nervous over the second one," Knost said about his 5-footer for par and 62. "I knew what it was for. But I didn't hit a bad putt. I hit it on the left lip, and it just stayed there. So a little disappointing, but still, I would have taken 9 under before I started (Friday)."

Then came Rory McIlroy, 7 under through seven holes when he made a 50-foot eagle putt from just off the 16th green. His momentum slowed, but he still came to the par-5 ninth needing a birdie to become the first player to shoot 62 on the Stadium Course at Sawgrass.

McIlroy opted to lay up from 271 yards because going for the green historically has not worked out well for him on No. 9. Laying up wasn't much better. He chunked a wedge, chunked a chip and made bogey for a 64.

"I wanted to make birdie and shoot 62," he said. "So yeah, I'm disappointed, but there's still two more days to go. That's the nice thing. I'm in good position heading into the weekend. … Hopefully, I'm not too far behind."

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