Los Angeles (AFP) – World number one Jason Day powered through the fatigue lingering from last week’s Masters campaign to seize a share of the halfway lead on Friday at the RBC Heritage.
Australia’s Day fired a two-under par 69 in challenging, windy conditions at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
He shared the lead on six-under par 136 with Americans Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell, who both posted 68s.
The top trio were one stroke in front of another three players that included overnight co-leader Luke Donald, who carded a 71, Scotland’s Russell Knox (65) and American Patton Kizzire (68).
Day, who had bogeyed the last hole on Thursday to drop out of a share of the lead, said gusting winds on Friday made life difficult.
“It would be 20 miles per hour and then suddenly die down,” Day said. “Very, very tough day out there. I’m glad I got it in at two-under.”
Day, who teed off on 10, finished with four birdies and two bogeys.
His bogey at the par-five fifth, his 14th hole of the day, came after he hit out of bounds trying to hit a draw around the dogleg.
“I was just trying to sling a draw around the corner, and got way too far on the inside and got stuck and just plugged it way right,” Day said.
It was a mental mistake, Day said, the kind that can creep in after the kind of tough major championship campaign that he slogged through at Augusta National last week.
“I felt like I went 10 rounds in a championship fight (at the Masters). It just beat us up, physically and mentally.
“I may be a little mentally fatigued but there’s no excuse. I’ve got to focus,” added Day, who went into the Masters off back-to-back wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC Match Play.
Former world number one Donald, who shared the first-round lead with South Africa’s Branden Grace, bounced back from a double-bogey at his fifth hole of the day, the par-three 14th, picking up two birdies in his last nine holes to post an even par round.
“I didn’t quite have it today, especially on the front nine,” Donald said. “”I was searching a little bit in my swing.
“But I really grinded it out pretty well, got some good up-and-downs and played a really solid front nine coming in.”
Eighty-two players made the halfway cut. That included reigning US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau, making his pro debut, and Jason Bohn, playing his first tournament since suffering a heart attack on February 26 following the second round of the Honda Classic.