Jason Day within reach of unexpected victory, a third win at Torrey Pines

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SAN DIEGO – A third title at Torrey Pines would be the most unexpected victory of Jason Day’s career.

Winless since 2018 and having dropped outside the top 100 in the world rankings, Day showed glimpses of his vintage form en route to a 67 Friday that gave him a share of the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open. He is at 14-under 202, tied with Will Zalatoris.

Day has been plagued for years by a series of back injuries, and at times the pain has gotten so severe that he began to contemplate life after the PGA Tour.

Asked how he’d describe the depths he explored over the past three years, he said, “A big ball of stress. You come from being the top of the world, and then all of a sudden it kind of falls out beneath you.

What makes Day so good at Torrey Pines?

Full-field scores from Farmers Insurance Open

“Even though I’ve had some good finishes here and there in the last three years, it’s been difficult to know that, like, Hey, do you want to keep pushing it? Because it’s painful either way,” he said. “It’s painful if I walk away. It’s painful if I keep pushing on. So I just had to suck it up.”

Day has been working for more than a year with swing coach Chris Como and managing a body that seemingly feels different each day. Gone are the violent swings that defined his prime; he and Como are collaborating on an action that matches up his body’s limited movements with a technically sound swing.

Battling back pain since he was a junior, he used to hope that he could extend his career until he was 35. (He turns that age this fall.) But now, he said, “honestly, I don’t feel like I have any injuries at all in my body. It’s a credit to my team sticking by me and pushing me in the right direction.”

There haven’t been many positive signs of late for Day, who doesn’t have a top-40 since July and has plummeted to No. 129 in the world. But now he's staring at his first Tour title since the 2018 Wells Fargo, and his third at the event after winning in both 2015 and ’18.

Is he ready to win once again?

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Very much so.”