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The Loop

Jason Day's Saturday double bogey on 18 makes a Memorial victory that much more challenging

DUBLIN, Ohio -- A soft golf course giveth and it also can taketh away. And the two strokes it recaptured from Jason Day on the 18th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club Saturday afternoon will make his bid for a victory in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide that much more challenging.

The No. 1 player in the world was cruising along at six under on his third round and just one behind the leaders when he came up short on his approach into the par-4 home hole. The ball landed softly into the steep bank, lurched forward, and then rolled back against a tuft of grass created by the pitch mark.

Not exactly a member's bounce for the Aussie, who lives in the Columbus area and calls Muirfield Village his home course.

"It was just a little bit unlucky on the lie," Day said charitably.

It was a bad break, tailor made to produce a fat shot. And that's what happened, with the ball only reaching the front of the putting surface before rolling all the way back down the hill this time. From there, Day pitched 20 feet past the hole and two-putted for a double bogey and a 68.

Already a three-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, including his last start, a wire-to-wire victory at The Players, Day completed 54 holes at 11-under 205.

"At the start of the day [if] they said you're going to shoot a 68, I would have taken it, definitely," said Day, whose best finish in the Memorial is T-27 in 2009. "I think I played pretty good. It hit it a lot better than I did yesterday, and there's a lot of positives going into tomorrow."

"I did close the gap on the lead a little bit, too, so that's a positive."

The negatives are a four-shot deficit to Matt Kuchar and Emiliano Grillo, who have yet to finish their rounds. Grillo has two holes remaining after play was halted at 5:02 p.m. EDT because of inclement weather. Kuchar, who won the 2013 Memorial, has three holes left after three straight birdies.

Heavy rains moved in, perhaps giving one of them, or Gary Woodland, who is at 14 under par with two holes to play, a chance to get farther ahead.

Day has won seven of his last 17 starts, but his last come-from-behind victory occurred last July at the RBC Canadian Open, when he overcame a two-stroke deficit to David Hearn.

"I've still got one more day to go. There's a lot of golf to be played tomorrow," said Day, whose wins at The Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational came at courses where he had struggled in the past. "I've won at Bay Hill, and I didn't play good there. I won Players, and I didn't play good there. So, hopefully, I can make it a trio and win this one."