Jason Day is in position to break a European stronghold on the Players Championship after the third round at Sawgrass in Florida today.
Day sits in the pack at 12-under par after a 68 today to go with rounds of 70 and 66 on Thursday and Friday.
He has only Spain’s Jon Rahm (15-under) and Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood (14-under) ahead of him and although he will need to go low tomorrow, the Australian is playing beautifully after a back injury forced him out of the tournament at Bay Hill last week.
The top five players are all internationals, with Australian Open champion Abraham Ancer of Mexico just behind Day. "I'm hitting it nicely,'' said Day. "I feel like I'm driving the ball well and hitting a lot of good quality iron shots. Unfortunately I need to putt a little bit better, but that's a good opportunity there. Because if I can keep that level of play up with my drivers and irons and get back to the standard with my putting, I've got a really good chance of winning tomorrow.''
Day said he was happy to be back in contention. "I think if I can walk way, hopefully, a champion tomorrow, that's a good little comeback especially how I was feeling last week.''
Rahm was dynamic in the third round with a 64, monstering the par-fives and almost holing out at the famous par-three 17th hole. He takes his first-ever 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event into Sunday, although he has won three times previously and plainly is one of the best players in the world.
McIlroy continues to show up in a period where he has been in the running in a string of tournaments, and the Northern Irishman had a three-metre birdie putt at the 18th hole to join Rahm in the lead, missing to the left. He shot 70 after beginning with consecutive bogeys.
Day also began with a bogey at the short par-four first, but he had five birdies and no bad mistakes after that, getting back into the mix with consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th holes before parring in. He is the 2016 champion at Sawgrass and is playing some of his best golf this week, and with just a three-shot buffer, he has a great chance to win tomorrow for the first time in almost 12 months.
Rahm will be joined in the last group by Fleetwood, another Ryder Cup hero from Europe who has had a part of the lead after the first two rounds.
Australia’s Adam Scott is also having a good week in Florida, tied-12th at nine-under par after a 68 today that was only marred by a water ball at the par-four 18th.