The Players: Jason Day and Sergio Garcia in the hunt at Sawgrass

Former champion Jason Day makes a strong charge up the Players Championship leaderboard after a second round five-under 67.

Former champions Jason Day and Sergio Garcia were delighted with their positions heading into the weekend of The Players Championship.

Day’s bid for back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour gathered momentum as he added a 67 to his opening 69 to move smoothly to eight under, while Sergio Garcia remains hopeful of another win at TPC Sawgrass, 10 years after his first, after his 69 got him to seven under par.

Australian Day, who also won the Farmers Insurance Open in January, kept a bogey off his five-birdie card in scorching, but calm, early conditions on Friday, rolling in five birdie putts to get within two of the early clubhouse lead.

“Pretty warm out there today, I think it’s about 90 degrees or so and the ball’s flying nice,” said Day, who also revealed he “chugged a Sprite” midway through his opening round as he was struggling for energy in the intense heat of the afternoon.

“It was nice to be able to get out there and shoot 67, five birdies, no bogeys, and get in the clubhouse at eight under. I think I started tidying up a few of the areas that I had last Sunday, and I think the swing is coming along. I just need to kind of focus on the good progress that I made thus far and then try and take it into the weekend.

“I think I’m hitting it better, which is nice, but for the most part I think if I can just keep the driver on the straight and narrow, give myself the opportunities, I feel like my irons are coming along nicely, not sure how many greens I hit today but when I was out of position I got myself back into it.

“It’s always good to come back and know that you’ve won on a golf course like this because it is tough, and obviously the weekend changes, the speed of the rounds happened very quickly. You’re cruising around in four hours instead of five hours, so the twos go very quickly, so you don’t have a lot of time to think,

“So it’s nice to be able to come to a golf course where you’ve already won here. And then obviously coming off last week’s win gives you a lot of confidence going forward knowing that you can close even though you don’t have your best stuff.”

The highlight of Garcia’s round was a stunning 240-yard second shot to inside three feet, which set up an eagle at the second. Garcia’s day also featured three birdies and a pair of bogeys, although he admitted he was grateful for his scrambling skills.

“It had good moments and not-so-good moments, but the positive is we scrambled well when we had to,” Garcia said. “We didn’t let it get away, which it could have happened after a couple bad shots that I hit on the back nine.

“But we’re kind of building a confidence up a little bit after a bad streak, and it’s nice to be out on the weekend and in a decent position.

“It obviously helps to know that you’ve done well, that it is one of your favorite golf courses in the world, but the confidence is something you build through tournaments and through the years. So hopefully we’ll keep building on that tomorrow and Sunday and see where we can finish.”

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