Day in the mix as McIlroy co-leads Players
A series of pain-killing injections in his back have helped Jason Day roar into weekend contention at the elite Players Championship in Florida.
One week after walking off the course and withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, four doses of cortisone around Day's spine have dissolved the pain of an annular disc tear.
On Friday at TPC Sawgrass, Day posted a six-under 66 to move to eight under, four strokes behind co-leaders Rory McIlroy (65) and Tommy Fleetwood (67).
Four-time major winner McIlroy and Englishman Fleetwood lead veterans Jim Furyk (64) and Ian Poulter (66), as well as Brian Harman (69) and reigning Australian Open winner Abraham Ancer (66).
Former world No.1 Day, who shares seventh with Keith Mitchell (65) and Kevin Kisner (68), said he was not surprised to be in contention despite an MRI revealing a back injury less than two weeks ago.
"I know how much it hurt last week, but the injections have hit the spot because I can't feel a thing ... which is good," Day said.
Day injured his back practising tirelessly for a week prior to the Palmer event in an attempt to improve his biggest weakness - iron play.
The 31-year-old feels his graft has paid dividends, hitting an impressive 29 of 36 greens in regulation for the first two rounds at Sawgrass.
Day has also been accurate from the tee, finding 21 of 28 fairways.
"I've really tried to watch my tempo with the irons," Day said.
"In years past, I've gone at the ball too hard, especially with the full swing.
"I'm not trying to hit it as hard now and I feel like I've gained a little bit more control from that."
Day's countryman and 2004 Players winner Adam Scott also climbed up the leaderboard with a 69, elevating him to five under.
"I want a really good round tomorrow, get to double digits under par, I can tee off Sunday knowing I have a legitimate chance to win," Scott said.
Marc Leishman (73, even par) bogeyed two of his last five holes to miss the one-under 36-hole cut, while Aaron Baddeley (73, four over) also exited early.
Meanwhile, two-time Players winner Tiger Woods rinsed his tee shot and his subsequent third shot from the drop zone at the famous par-3 17th.
Woods then two-putted for a 7 after his fifth shot found the 17th's iconic island green, but salvaged a 71 for a three-under total.