Day well in Pebble Beach mix on PGA Tour

Jason Day feels he's stacked on the muscle required to compete with big-hitting Dustin Johnson as he looks to reel in the world No.1 during the closing rounds at the Pebble Beach Pro Am.

Day put on a vintage driving display, missing only four fairways at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, to leave himself just three shots off the pace heading into thes third round.

He raced up the leaderboard with a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 to climb to nine under, while Johnson laid down the marker with a 64 to share the 36-hole lead at 12 under alongside fellow American Beau Hossler (67).

Having increased his weight to 91 kilograms in the off season, former world No.1 Day ranks third on the US PGA Tour for average driving distance.

"I definitely lost distance last year; I cut too much weight. This year, I feel a lot better," Day told AAP.

"On the first hole today, I hit my drive 360 yards; that was a good start.

"I'm much better at this weight, which is 200 pounds, because I feel strong and like I can go after it but stay steady in the swing."

With his final two rounds to be played at Pebble Beach, the 30-year-old said he'll need every inch with the driver to make a run at Johnson, who hit multiple tee shots in excess of 340 yards in Friday's round.

"You can have the distance, but you've got to hit it straight and DJ has both," Day, who won at Torrey Pines two weeks ago, said.

"I feel like I can putt pretty decent when I'm under the pump, so I just have to try get myself into the mix and let my game take control of the rest."

Johnson added: "I feel like if I'm driving it really well I'm very tough to beat."

Day put on a ball-striking clinic on the easier Monterey course, hitting 15 of 18 greens.

But with several missed putts from close range, he settled for a share of fifth in a group which includes five-time major winner Phil Mickelson (65) and world No.2 Jon Rahm (67).

Australian veteran Cameron Percy struggled during a 72 at Pebble Beach to remain at five under, while countryman Aaron Baddeley is a shot back after a 69 and Rod Pampling (73) is one under.

Stuart Appleby and Cam Davis (one over), Greg Chalmers (two over) Matt Jones (three over) and Adam Scott (four over) will face a tough task to make the 54-hole cut.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy couldn't recover from a four-putt double bogey at the par-four fifth, on his back nine at Monterey, to plummet to one under with a 74.

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