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With Help From Tiger, Day Learns to Play With Lead

REUTERS/Paul Childs TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. Picture Supplied by Action Images.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA | Now that Jason Day and Tiger Woods have become texting buddies, Day has asked Woods about how he was so effective at playing with the lead, something he did as a matter of routine.

Patience and aggression, Day says Woods has told him.

Find your comfort zone, stay there and when opportunities arise, pounce on them.

“And, pretty much, if it’s not going your way, suck it up and just get it done somehow and that’s just a typical Tiger Woods comment right there,” Day said Saturday afternoon.

If you’re in the lead after Thursday, try to extend that lead on Friday. Then try to extend it on Saturday. Never stop reaching for more but don’t be unnecessarily aggressive.

That’s the thought process that helped Day through a long, wet Saturday at Bay Hill and it’s what he will rely on Sunday when he starts the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a two-stroke lead on Henrik Stenson, Troy Merritt and Kevin Chappell.

After blistering Bay Hill with rounds of 66-65, Day went into grind mode in the rain Saturday. He struggled to get comfortable. The umbrella went up. The umbrella came down. The rain jacket was on. The rain jacket was off.

Always deliberate, Day became more deliberate Saturday, his closed-eyes pre-shot visualization process bordering on a short nap at times. It’s because, Day said, he would picture one shot shape then another shot would come into his mind. He was searching for clarity.

He managed to post a scrappy 2-under-par 70 and he’s 15 under through three days. Day is chasing his first victory since the BMW Championship in September, though this is just his sixth start since then.

Asked how he’s a different player today than the Jason Day of two years ago, he said, “I probably would have choked (then). That’s not to say like I mean I may choke in the future as well. But that’s just how it is.

“You learn and you get better and, unfortunately, those times when you do play bad and you don’t win, that’s when you learn the most …

“It’s going to be tough to win tomorrow. I’ve got to stay in my own world and just focus on myself and if I hit bad shots, forget about them, move on and try to keep pressing forward.”


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