One unhealthy drive from world No 1 Scottie Scheffler on the 18th hole final night time was all it took to alter the complexion of right now’s ultimate spherical of the 86th Masters.
For 53 holes the 25-year-old Texan had performed with such unruffled assuredness it seemed as if he would finish his dominant efficiency with a four-shot lead and be the clear favorite to slide on a inexperienced jacket. The ultimate hole was taking part in the toughest of all within the third spherical however it appeared tailored for the big-hitting Scheffler to slip certainly one of his trademark fades into the golf green and card a par. He stepped up crammed with confidence after birdieing the seventeenth.
From the second it left the membership face, nonetheless, it was clear his drive was heading for the bushes on the left. For a few horrible minutes it seemed as if he would lose his ball. As it was, he needed to take a one-shot penalty.
Scottie Scheffler holds the lead going into the ultimate spherical of The Masters in Augusta
He then performed among the finest photographs struck all day to scale back the injury to a bogey. It shall be fascinating to see if he can retain such composure amid all that may occur right here on Sunday afternoon.
Certainly the dogged Aussie Cam Smith, latest winner of the Players Championship, who shot a best-of-the- day 68 — he was the one man to interrupt 70 — shall be smelling blood. A 3-shot lead is nothing spherical right here, and significantly given Scheffler’s nearest pursuer is the in-form 28-year-old from Brisbane. He’s the final man you’d need to see within the rear-view mirror. The odds nonetheless favour Scheffler however they’ve shortened markedly following his last-hole mishap, and three bogeys in his final 5 holes.
Irishman Shane Lowry will begin seven behind in tied fourth place after a 72 that featured a barrel of fruity language on the thirteenth hole aimed toward caddie Bo Martin following a bogey six. ‘You were only 30 yards out with that lay-up yardage that left me with no shot,’ fumed the 2019 Open champion. ‘What a s*** yardage that was. Well done Bo.’
It appeared to be nicely performed Shane however one other bogey on the seventeenth hole stung. He shot 73.
Englishman Danny Willett had solely made the midway lower as soon as since his 2016 victory however he has the chance to enhance on that file right now after a 73 left him on stage par in eighth place.
You have to return to 2008 to seek out the final time that they had a day like this right here in the course of the Masters, the place the light-weight polo shirts for the nice and cozy solar had been changed by thick sweaters, neck heaters and ski gloves to combat the numbing chilly and capricious wind.
For Tiger, chilly actuality struck onerous within the frigid temperatures. After the fairytale of the primary 36 holes got here a harsh awakening and a nightmare day on the treacherous greens.
On the 1,661st hole of Tiger’s storied Augusta career, the best clutch putter the sport has seen suffered the indignity of solely his second four-putt, and the primary for 17 years. There had been no fewer than 4 three-putts as nicely, as he subsided to a 78. ‘You’d have thought it was a follow spherical with the quantity of putts I had on the market,’ mentioned Tiger. ‘It felt like I had 1,000 putts. I had zero feel on the greens.’
On the constructive facet, his driving was a lot improved. He solely missed one fairway all day, and there was a stunning second on the par-three twelfth, in entrance of the huge military of patrons who collect daily at this particular apex of Amen Corner. Up popped Woods the showman, forgetting his placing woes for one hole at the least to sink a birdie effort from 12 ft and draw the loudest cheer all day. The stroll has change into laboured because the week has gone on, however the comeback of comebacks will proceed to please and enthral right now. Suffice to say, it received’t be the winner who will get the warmest ovation come the 18th.
Rory McIlroy’s hopes of finishing the career Grand Slam seem over for one more year regardless of a battling 71 that noticed him transfer into the highest 10. The 32-year-old has struck loads of fantastic photographs however undid a number of the good work with primary errors. One got here on the opening hole, the place his drive plunged into the golf green bunker and his recovery shot struck the face and got here again to his ft. He wanted to play a superb third simply to keep away from a double bogey. The par-five second got here and went with out him taking up the birdie on provide.
The world no 1 seemed to be cruising, however one final shot on the 18th has set up a tense Sunday
It slightly summed up his Masters up to now that he was the one participant in all the discipline of 52 gamers to birdie the monstrous par- three fourth, after a splendidly piercing three-iron, solely to offer it again on the quick sixth, which had the simplest of the 4 hole areas used this week.
When the circumstances get powerful you’ll be able to normally depend on Tommy Fleetwood to get going and the Englishman didn’t disappoint, as he continued his fantastic rally following the distress of a gap spherical of 75. A 72 on Friday received him by means of to the weekend and the 70 yesterday was significantly good, and left him alongside McIlroy. After 18 months within the doldrums, the 31-year-old has the stage to relaunch his career right now.
‘I thought I played amazing, it was so hard out there,’ he mentioned. ‘It’s a fantastic place to play once you really feel you’re answerable for your golf ball.’
Scheffler, who could have the burden of historical past on his facet right now, will surely concur. Only 5 different gamers held a five-shot lead at midway, and it’s important to go all the way in which again to Englishman ‘Lighthorse’ Harry Cooper in 1936 to seek out the final one who didn’t go on to win the inexperienced jacket.
For 53 holes there was nothing from Scheffler to recommend he’ll emulate Cooper and fall on the ultimate fence. But that last-hole error has left room for doubt. It guarantees to be one other nail-biter over the again 9 at Augusta.