Jason Day said a pep talk from his wife, Ellie, played a big role in his 3-under round Saturday that vaulted him from a tie for 45th to 27th place in the Masters at 3-over 219.
“She was ready to slap me in the face … because I was so negative with myself,” said Day, whose first two rounds of 74-76 made the cut on the line and relegated him to the first tee time of the day. “She was trying to pick me up and give me a good boost. Which she did.”
Day made a mess of the second nine in the second round, shooting 5-over 41 with four bogeys and a double bogey at No. 11. He matched his worst score at Augusta (Day had 76 in the first round in 2012 before withdrawing in the second round with an ankle injury), and it was two strokes higher than his previous worst 36-hole score in the Masters.
Day’s third round didn’t necessarily start out much better. He bogeyed the second hole after hitting his third shot out of the right greenside bunker over the green, then pitching on and two-putting. He then bogeyed No. 4 when he missed the green way right, chipped on and missed an 11-foot par putt.
But he nearly aced the par-3 sixth hole, knocking his tee shot to within inches. He then went on a second-nine blitz with four birdies from Nos. 12 to 15. He two-putted for birdie at the par-5 13th and 15th and had 6-foot birdie putts at Nos. 12 and 14.
Day’s momentum was halted when he bogeyed the 17th after missing the fairway left and laying up. But he parred No. 18 to log his first score in the 60s at Augusta since a 67 in the first round of the 2015 tournament.
After hitting only 10 greens in the first round and nine in the second, Day found the putting surface 14 times in the third round and hit 11 of 14 fairways.
He had no illusions about contending but used the third round as a confidence-building exercise.
“Anything can happen on Sunday at Augusta,” Day said. “Guys can either melt down or guys can come from behind and win big. So just got to try and do the best job I can, and hopefully if I put everything together (I) can give it a good shot. But the first two days kind of put me out of it, and today was a good round to get myself back to good form.”
And a kick in the pants from his wife certainly helped.
“It’s good to have a good wife when you have something like that happen,” he said of his forgettable first two rounds.