Tiger Woods failed to take advantage of a course that was 228 yards shorter and soft enough that the players actually found pitch marks on the greens.
There, Day slammed the door shut for his 12th career win, making birdie at No. 16 and then almost holing his tee shot at the par-3 17th, the ball hitting the pin. Twenty-four players are within seven shots of the lead heading into Sunday's final round.
Tiger Woods had his first birdie-free round since 2014 to finish equal 55th at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Sunday, his second-worst result of the year.
Day hit a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th, a 14-footer for birdie at 12 and back-to-back two-foot birdie putts at the 14th and par-5 15th. "If you get up and you kind of don't really want it and don't have the motivation to improve and get better as a person and as a player, then it's a real struggle to come out and beat the best players in the world". He calmly rolled in the putt to take a two-shot lead to the closing hole.
After a par at 2, he missed another seven-footer on the third to drop to two-over for the day and one-over for the tournament.
"I'd much rather be in this position than chasing", Day said. "I missed a lot of fairways and a lot of greens".
"This is one of the best wins I've ever had just because how hard everything was today".
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"The biggest thing is that my short game has been spot on the last three days", Day said. You're thinking and your subconscious is telling you, 'You are not going to get past this, you're going to fail, you're going to fail.' I just kept saying to myself to forget about those and to just keep pushing, and just try to give myself opportunities. "I didn't putt well again.I made nothing". Three consecutive pars to close out the round prevented Uihlein from breaking the record as the red-hot American finished the day tied with Bryson Dechambeau (66), Paul Casey (69) and Aaron Wise (70). "The back side was definitely a lot more gettable today, obviously showcased with a number of guys going low on the back side".
The 60-year-old German, a three-time victor of the Houston-area event, is seeking his first victory of 2018 after seven wins last year.
Mickelson had his lowest round of the season while McIlroy three-putted the 18th and still shot five under.
"I'm just not that comfortable with anything right now".
For McIlroy, though, it was a particularly disappointing final round after his third round 66 had moved him to the fringes of contention with what he'd termed a "half chance" bid at victory. As if that weren't enough star power, the veteran golfers, with 19 major titles between them, will be joined by Rickie Fowler, who has yet to win a major but is ranked sixth in the world and will be in search of his second Players title.
Woods finished with a 74 for 286, well off the pace in tied-55th.