Ja­son Day climbs within two of lead

Antelope Valley Press - - NUMBERS GAME - By DOUG FER­GU­SON

PEB­BLE BEACH — Ja­son Day re­ceived a warm re­minder Fri­day at Peb­ble Beach how good it feels to hit shots the way he wants, make a bunch of putts and see his name high on the leader­board.

Day made two long birdie putts across the green, holed a 40-yard wedge for eagle on the dan­ger­ous par-5 14th, made a cou­ple of big par saves and moved into con­tention with an 8-un­der 64 in the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am.

He was two shots be­hind Nick Taylor of Canada, who birdied four of his last five holes at Peb­ble Beach for a 66 to take his first 36hole lead on the PGA Tour. Taylor was at 14-un­der 129. “I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve ac­tu­ally been out there and felt the way that I felt out there to­day and played well like that,” Day said.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Phil Mick­el­son also got in the mix with aburst of four straight birdies af­ter the turn at Mon­terey

Penin­sula. He made bo­gey on the long par-3 ninth to fin­ish his round of 7-un­der. He was three shots be­hind.

Mick­el­son has not had a top 10 on the PGA Tour since win­ning at Peb­ble Beach last year, though he fin­ished third last week at the Saudi In­ter­na­tional and car­ried a lit­tle mo­men­tum into the event he has won five times.

Day knows the feel­ing. Since last year at Peb­ble, the former world No. 1 has recorded just three top 10s, none since last June. He has not se­ri­ously con­tended. His back trou­bles have been so frus­trat­ing that at times he won­dered how much longer he wanted to play. He de­scribed those at “dark times.”

His out­look Fri­day was as bright as the sun­shine over the Mon­terey Penin­sula, at least un­til a light marine layer or parts of the cour­ses low­ered the tem­per­a­ture.

Day birdied the par 5s and made a 45-foot putt from the fringe on the par-3 fifth at Peb­ble. He holed a 50-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th, an­other bonus. And then he surged into con­tention by hol­ing out for his eagle on the 14th, and fol­low­ing that with a 15-foot birdie on the 15th.

There’s still one more round be­fore this tour­na­ment played over three cour­ses takes shape, and there’s no bet­ter place to be in rel­a­tive calm than Peb­ble Beach.

“If you have re­ally good weather, you can go low at Peb­ble,” Day said.

That’s what Taylor did, mak­ing birdie on all the par 5s for his 66. Ditto for Chris Baker, the 33-year-old PGA Tour rookie who played Peb­ble Beach for the first time in a prac­tice round Wed­nes­day, and re­ally had a blast in his round of 64 on Fri­day that put him four shots be­hind, along with Charl Schwartzel (66 at Peb­ble).

Of the top five play­ers, only Mick­el­son was not at Peb­ble Beach.

Mon­terey Penin­sula played about two shots un­der par, while Peb­ble’s av­er­age was nearly 1 un­der. Spy­glass Hill was nearly a stroke over par, so it was no sur­prise that only one player from the top 20 — Matt Ev­ery — was at Spy­glass on Fri­day.

Dustin John­son, a two-time Peb­ble Beach win­ner who fin­ished run­ner-up to Ted Potter Jr. two years ago, ap­peared to be hit­ting his stride with great con­trol of his irons and usual power off the tee.

OUT FRONT Nick Taylor, of Canada, waves af­ter mak­ing a birdie putt on the 18th green of the Peb­ble Beach Golf Links dur­ing the sec­ond round of the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Na­tional Pro-Am tour­na­ment Fri­day.

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