Jason Day rebounds with 69 in round three of the Masters

Jason Day during the third round of the 2017 Masters.
Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Jason Day got some important instructions after his awful start to the Masters, and he used it to calm himself and play the kind of golf expected from the third-ranked player in the world.

Day said his wife, Ellie, "was kind of ready to slap me in the face because I was so negative with myself."

Ellie Day spent some time adjusting her husband's frame of mind.

"She was trying to pick me up and give me a good boost, which she did," Day said. "Which was a good thing."

His wife's words helped Day regain his stride at the Masters on Saturday with a 3-under 69, just his second time in the 60s in his past 17 rounds at Augusta National. While it still leaves the one-time top-ranked player in the world with work to do to make an impact on the championship, Day's happy to see some good scoring on his card.

Day has three top 10 finishes in six previous Masters appearances. He hoped to put things together this week for another run at the green jacket. Instead, Day went 74-76 the first two rounds and made the 6-over cut right on the number.

He was first off the tee on Saturday and was joined by an Augusta National club member to help him keep pace around the course after 53 golfers made the cut and players are sent off in groups of two on the weekend.

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As Day teed off a smattering of fans who watched did double takes to make sure it was actually Day on the course. Many fans didn't notice, they spent that time at the concession stands or souvenir shops awaiting the leaders to play hours later.

It didn't matter to a re-focused Day who he played with or who was watching. He recalibrated his attitude to make the most of a way-too-early start time.

"You're thinking 'I want to be in the afternoon tee times,' but once again, it's an opportunity."

One that Day took advantage of as the round progressed.

He had a run of five birdies over a four-hole stretch to pick up four shots on the leaders who had yet to tee off. The highlight was a beautifully struck second shot from behind some trees on the left side of the 15th hole that landed 30 feet from the pin. Day just missed the eagle and registered his fourth straight birdie.

Day had a great chance to keep things going on the par-3 16th, but his birdie try from 45 feet grazed the cup.

He followed with a bogey on the 17th and finished at 3 over in a tidy 3 hours, 45 minutes.

Day recalled a round at the John Deere Classic when he was first on the course and shot a 72 in just under 2 hours.

"They gave me a plaque, a picture, saying, 'Nothing runs like a Day,'" he said. "I was pretty proud."

The Australian star has his fingers crossed that a full day of sun would firm up greens that had been more receptive and have the field potentially coming back toward him.

"Anything can happen on a Sunday at Augusta," Day said flatly. "Guys can either melt down or guys can from behind the win big. So just got to do the best job I can and hopefully, if I can put everything together, give it a good shot."

He will for sure ease up on the expletives he used after Friday's round. Day apologized to media and TV cameras about skipping interviews after his 5-over 76, tied for his highest score in 24 career rounds at Augusta National.

Ellie had some pointed advice for that, too.

"She's like, 'You better get it out now before the kids get back,'" he said, laughing.

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