SOUTHPORT, England – When Jason Day walked off the 18th hole early Friday afternoon at Royal Birkdale, having just shot 6-over 76 to drop to 5 over for the tournament, he thought his British Open was over. The fact that he was even par with three holes to go before closing in 6-6-6 only added to the frustration.
“I honestly thought I missed the cut, that’s why I stormed off,” said Day, who had missed two straight cuts entering the week, at the U.S. Open and Travelers Championship. “And I was like, this is going to be my third one in a row, and not the direction that I want to go. … It wasn’t so much that I was angry at thinking I’m missing the cut. It was more so I was angry with I was even par with three holes to go. And I came home in a coffin.”
But around 9 p.m. local time, after eating dinner and ice cream and watching The Expendables 2, Day flipped the television to Sky Sports and saw that 5 over had just made the cut. He felt better, though most of that renewed happiness was because of the ice cream, Day quipped.
Before his third round on Saturday, Day’s wife, Ellie, told him: “Just go out there and just play. You’ve got nothing to lose now, obviously. You’re dead last, anyway. No matter what you’re trying to prove.”
Now, Day is far from dead last. He took advantage of a vulnerable Royal Birkdale layout that got torched Saturday (Branden Grace shot the first 62 in a major five groups behind Day) and shot 5-under 65 to get back to even par.
Day’s third round included five birdies and no bogeys.
“I drove it much better. I hit a lot of good iron shots and I holed putts,” Day said. “It’s a lot more fun today. I’m just saying that (there are) a lot of people with a lot of smiles walking off today.”
Including Day, who was so angry Friday after his round that he skipped his scheduled gym session.
“I’m glad I didn’t because I probably would have squatted 500 pounds, I was that angry,” Day said.
After a nice round Saturday, Day, with a much clearer mind, offered some perspective.
“We’re in a great position in life,” Day said. “To be able to play at Royal Birkdale in a major championship, we’re very gifted. We’re very blessed in a sense to be here.”
But Day isn’t just staying around Royal Birkdale this weekend; he’s going to enter Sunday – depending on what the leaders do Saturday afternoon, of course – with a chance to contend for another major title.