Date: March 19, 2016
Author: Bernie McGuire in Orlando

Day holds lead at Bay Hill

Jason Day has again spoken of his burning passion to get back to World No. 1, after he carded a second-round 65 to hold a two-shot lead in the Bay Hill Invitational.

It's been six months since Day stormed to the pinnacle of the rankings on the back of his six-shot success in FexEx Cup Play-Off Series BMW Championship at Conway Way Farms in suburban Chicago.

Indeed, Day was an unstoppable World No. I towards the latter half of 2015 steam-rolling his way to the top on the back of four victories in six tournaments.

However his time on the throne was short-lived with Day bumped back to No. 2 and then to No. 3 competing this week in in suburban Orlando.

But now after muscling his way first to a lunchtime five-shot lead and ending the day two clear of his rivals through two rounds of  Arnold Palmer's tournament,  Day said his "ultimate goal'' was to get back to the heights of the professional game.

"I hate playing bad golf, I really do," he said. "That's why I work really hard and the only way I know to get back to No. 1 in the world is to win tournaments and I enjoy the process of going through the work and going through stuff like this and embracing it, because it's only making me better, the more times I put myself here and it's making myself stronger as a player, as a person going forward. I think, I really didn't find much clarity with being No. 1 because I wasn't there very long.

"I kind of stopped straight away but if I can get back there again this year that would be fantastic. That's the ultimate goal to get back there and if I can do that, then try and stay there as long as I can. So I would love to go on like a Rory McIlroy run where he was there for a number of years and then, instead of just being there for four weeks and just being around that top spot."

There is just .1666 of a world ranking point separating the duo while there is 1.771o points between Day and World No. 1 Jordan Spieth. So a victory at Bay Hill and success next week in the Texas capital of Austin, and venue for the WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship, could see Day heading to the Masters as World No. 1

Day looked in a class all of his own calmly picking off seven birdies in sweltering conditions in a round of 65 to jump to 13-under par in the $US 6.2m event. It is the Queensland golfer's lowest Bay Hill round, a shot better than his starting 66

And it was not to around 5pm local time Sweden's Henrik Stenson, courtesy of a 66, bridged Day's lead to just two shots while England's Justin Rose, also with a 66, in in third place a shot behind Stenson on 11-under par.

Day has been dynamic off the tee hitting 19 of 28 fairways over the two rounds and 25 of 36 greens-in-regulation, and once on the putting surfaces he's posted 22 putts on Thursday and five more on day two, to be averaging 24.5 putts per round.

"It was great and I felt like I couldn't do anything kind of wrong out there which was good and was driving it nice and was driving it really long," he said. "I had several shot to hit a lot of greens and I putted fantastic today.

"So to hole 125 feet of putts was fantastic and the putt on nine definitely helped that along and the one on 17. But I was very, very pleased. My goal was to try and stay patient but still aggressive and it worked out over the last two days."

Day commenced his round at six under par having broken a shot clear. He moved to seven under par with a birdie at the 12th hole or the third of his round and then grabbed back-to-back birdies at his seventh and eighth hole, and then heading into his homeward half with birdies at 12, 14, 15 and the last where, after missing the fairway right, Day hit a 165-metre shot from the rough to 12 metres and holed the birdie putt from behind the flag.

And while most would believe Day is currently seeing the hole as a big as a proverbial bucket, he disagreed. "It may look easy on the outside but it's not," he said smiling. "There are certain shots out there, certain second shots out there I really have to kind of bare down and make sure that I hit the correct shot out there, and if you just have that one little lapse in concentration that could be the swing of momentum where you're making a bogey or a double bogey out there and instead of being 13-under you're back at 10.

"But, I'm seeing the shots, hitting the shots and they're coming out exactly how I'm seeing them and, you know, once I get on the green the surface is so pure that, you know, I'm just seeing the line and it's going in, which is great. I mean 13, like I said 13, 14-under is usually average that, wins the tournament around here.''

Adam Scott fell back after a second-round 73 but Marc Leishman is having a good week, seven-under through two rounds.

Meanwhile Perth's Minjee Lee is 10-under through two rounds of the Founders Cup in Phoenix and in contention.