Hits and misses on day two of the 2017 Australian Open: Day makes his move while Spieth treads water

Jason Day really took off on the 12th with four straight birdies. He finished with a 3-under 68 to be one behind overnight leader Lucas Herbert (66).

By Chris Vogt

Sydney and The Australian Golf Club decided to throw another day of changeable conditions at the tournament. Which is only fair, given the usual swapping of tee times.

It may be the only fair thing that happens in golf, and even then the weather can play dirty. But today, it delivered much the same as Day 1.

This golf course is as picturesque a tournament venue as we have in Australia. Emerald ribbons of fairway dotted with creamy bunkers dip and roll through the pine trees, which stand in neat beds of woodchip.

This base may have some health-giving properties or make course maintenance less taxing. But those with a love of all things beautiful no doubt see its aesthetic value, much as they do the pine straw at Augusta National.

It also serves as a penalty of sorts, given the lack of rough around here.

Most players have visited the uneven surface during the first half of the tournament, with mixed results. One who seemed to have this and other elements of his game in hand was Victorian Lucas Herbert.

Out in the calm of early morning, Herbert made the ball sing shot after shot, as hole followed hole until he’d skipped round in 66, taking him to nine under heading into the weekend. Benign conditions they may have been, but it was an exceptional round.

But afternoons often bring out the best in champions. After all, it’s when the winning gets done. Marquee man Jason Day took on the testing Sydney sea breeze which poured onto the course from different directions, and made a play for his first national open.

Steady, solid and unspectacular for a period, the World No 12 made a stretch of back-nine birdies which vaulted him into a share of the lead. Faltering on the way home, Day still sits comfortably in the mix, and looms as a key player on the weekend.

Day’s partner in promotion for this Open fared less well. Jordan Spieth simply never got going. But you always felt he might. His matchless putter is yet to catch fire this week, and he sits eight shots adrift of the leader. But Jason Day and others remain wary of the multiple major winner. As well they might, for he is a rare talent. Has anyone been so composed, so young, in the cauldron that is tournament golf?

One with his eye on a career like Spieth’s is Curtis Luck. Playing behind Jason Day, the decorated amateur recently made the jump to the working week and is carrying himself admirably. With former professional Mike Clayton on the bag, and family members following nervously, Luck played a solid professional’s game of golf. He even birdied 18 in front of the corporate hordes to make the cut.

There are plenty who didn’t, and for them this weekend is just another day off. They’ll probably go away and practise. But there’s much to play for out here, and Sydney’s balmy breezes will be close at hand.

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