Many of the top players in the world are in Orlando this week competing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Palmer’s Bay Hill Club. Jason Day, the 2015, ranked third in the world, is playing as he did in the latter stages of 2016 when he won the PGA Championship in August.
After an opening round 66 on Thursday, he followed that with a seven-under 65 on Friday to take a two-shot lead over Henrik Stenson and a three-shot advantage over Justin Rose. Stenson is the world’s seventh-ranked player, while Rose is eighth.
Also competing is Rory McIlroy, who is ranked second behind Jordan Spieth. McIlroy opened on Thursday with a three-over 75 on Thursday, putting him in danger of missing the cut.
McIlroy followed the path of Spieth last week, who had a 76 in the first round at last week’s Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in Tarpon Springs. Like Spieth a week ago, McIlroy recovered and fired a McIlroy-like 65 to finish at two under after 36 holes. He made the cut by two strokes.
Day had a marvelous round of seven birdies and no bogeys. One of his most significant birdies came on the 476-yard, par 4 ninth hole. On Thursday, Day suffered a double bogey on the ninth that allowed other competitors to remain close.
“I made sure that I (didn’t make) a mistake on nine today,” said Day. “I hit the ball good and I putted good. I’m very happy with the way it all turned out.”
Adam Scott, the world’s sixth-ranked player, started the day only one shot behind Day. On Friday, he limped in with a 73, including a double bogey seven on the par 5 sixth hole. He is now tied for 25th.
Also tied with Scott at four under par is last year’s (British) Open Champion Zach Johnson, who had identical rounds of 70. Spieth did not enter the tournament.
Missing the cut were tour veterans Matt Kuchar, Jeff Overton, Vijay Singh and Stewart Cink.