Sunday 4 December 2016

Rory McIlroy makes the cut but Jason Day firmly in control of Arnold Palmer Invitational

Published 18/03/2016 | 18:20

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits from a green side bunker on the 17th hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 18, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits from a green side bunker on the 17th hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 18, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy eased any concerns about the state of his game heading into the first major of 2016 as Jason Day set an imposing clubhouse target in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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Day added a flawless 65 to his opening 66 for a 13-under-par halfway total of 131, just one shot outside the tournament record shared by fellow Australian Adam Scott, Tom Watson and Andy Bean.

"It would be nice to go eight under tomorrow," joked Day, whose best score at Bay Hill before the start of the week had been 68.

Starting on the back nine, the US PGA champion birdied the 12th, 16th and 17th to reach the turn in 33, before picking up four more birdies on the inward half and closing his round in style by holing from 35 feet on the ninth.

"I said after yesterday's round I was just trying to stay patient and came out and started off really solid and kept it up," the world number three added on PGA Tour Radio. "I drove the ball nicely, hit a lot of good quality shots into the greens.

"I had one kick-in on three but for the most part played the par-fives great again and just putted great. The two bombs that I holed today on 17 and nine definitely helped, but I felt like these sorts of scores were coming, I just had to be patient with myself.

"It's very easy to get ahead of myself, especially with how I've played earlier this year. It hadn't been that great and I get a lot of media saying 'What's wrong, what's wrong?'.

"You can get a little bit caught up in it sometimes but you just have to make sure you're doing the right things, you're working hard, you're working towards that goal and the last few days has been fantastic."

McIlroy, who blew a four-shot lead in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship and carded an opening 75 here, had kept pace with Day in the group ahead for much of the round thanks to six birdies in his first 14 holes.

However, the world number two failed to birdie three of the four par fives and eventually had to settle for a 67 after dropping his only shot of the day on the seventh - his 16th hole - after missing the green off the tee.

That left McIlroy on two under par and safely inside the cut, which was projected to fall at level par.

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