Day still up by 2 at rainy Bay Hill

Jason Day of Australia withstood the rain and challenges from several players on Saturday to maintain the two-stroke lead he took into the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Day, No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings, posted a 2-under-par 70 and his 54-hole total of 15-under 201 was two shots better than Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Troy Merritt and Kevin Chappell at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla.

“I felt like I couldn’t get any momentum, especially with the umbrella up and down, the rain gear on and off,” said Day, the reigning PGA champion who is playing in only his fifth tournament since claiming his first major title last August.

“All that said, I feel like I stayed patient to ground out a 2-under-par. It’s good to be back in contention. I love the feeling of being in the lead. Now I have to push forward until Sunday is done.”

Stenson, who also carded a 70, briefly took the lead with birdies on the fourth and fifth holes before sinking a 13-foot eagle putt on the sixth.

However, his ball plugged in a soggy bunker on the next hole en route to a bogey, and although he twice was able to get up-and-down from the sand for pars on the way home, he didn’t make another birdie and fell two shots behind Day with another bogey at No. 12.

“It’s definitely a case of staying out of the sand,” said Stenson, who playing across town from his home at Lake Nona. ” … We need to come from behind and play a really good round tomorrow if we want to have a shot at it.”

Chappell, of Fresno and UCLA climbed the leaderboard with a 67 that included four birdies in the first six holes and two on the back nine, taking his only bogey on the seventh hole. Merritt birdied three of the last four holes to also shoot 67.

Justin Rose of England, another Lake Nona resident, posted a 71 and was four strokes behind in a tie for fifth with Derek Fathauer, who birdied two of the last three holes for a 69.

Emiliano Grillo of Argentina shot 68 and was six shots back in a tie for seventh with Jamie Lovemark, of Rancho Santa Fe and USC, who made a double bogey-6 on the last hole to finish at 71.

Zach Johnson, who won the Open Championship last July at St. Andrews, had a 69 and was seven strokes behind in a tie for ninth with K.J. Choi (70) of South Korea, Chris Kirk (69) and Smylie Kaufman (68).

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland struggled to his second 75 in three days and was tied for 64th, a distant 16 shots behind.

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