Just two holes to go.
In principle, in fact. Because that is the Masters and since Xander Schauffele simply reminded us how shortly a spherical can start to go awry.
Coming off the 15th gap, Schauffele was nearly assuredly feeling good: He had simply made birdie and narrowed Hideki Matsuyama’s result in two strokes.
Schauffele marched to No. 16 and promptly hit his tee shot into the water. His subsequent shot — technically the third due to the penalty — landed within the gallery. He finally posted a double bogey.
Matsuyama bogeyed on the outlet to maneuver to 11 below par after a putt lipped out. But Schauffele’s debacle moved him to seven below, and he surrendered second place to Will Zalatoris, who simply completed his match at 9 below.
Hideki Matsuyama has met a Masters nightmare. He arrived on the tee field of No. 15 with a four-stroke lead. But a bogey took him to 12 below par for the match, and Xander Schauffele made birdie. Matsuyama’s lead is down to 2 strokes.
Hideki Matsuyama bumped into hassle on No. 15: A shot landed within the water. His companion for the day, Xander Schauffele, trails by 4 strokes, and Matsuyama has not but escaped the 15th.
A little bit of latest historical past about Hideki Matsuyama: He was main on the Players Championship in Florida in March 2020 when organizers canceled it due to the coronavirus, which was gaining a foothold within the United States and prompting a near-total shutdown of sports activities throughout the nation.
Let’s feed the controversy over what works in golf and particularly at Augusta National. Of the 5 gamers with the very best common drive distances this match, only one, Jon Rahm, is at present within the prime 5 on the leaderboard.
Consider the place the match could be had Xander Schauffele not made a double bogey on No. 5. After making birdie on 12 and 13, he’s 5 strokes behind Hideki Matsuyama.
Hideki Matsuyama gave again a stroke with a bogey on the 12th gap. Meanwhile, there’s a three-way tie for second: Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris and Xander Schauffele all path Matsuyama by 5 photographs.
Will Zalatoris had an unlucky outing on No. 12 and bogeyed the outlet. Hideki Matsuyama’s lead has grown to 6 strokes.
The Masters Tournament area has rounded the flip at Augusta National Golf Club, and Hideki Matsuyama’s lead is constructing ever so barely. But he’s simply now coming into probably the most fearsome stretches in all of golf.
Now at 13 below par for the match after a birdie to complete the primary half of his closing spherical, Matasuyama has a five-stroke lead initially of the again 9. Will Zalatoris, who’s enjoying in his first Masters, has not altogether pale and is at eight below. Jon Rahm, who simply completed his spherical with a 66, rode a six-stroke swing on the day right into a tie for third place with Xander Schauffele.
Just one former Masters winner is within the prime 5 at this level: Jordan Spieth is likely one of the fifth-place contenders at 5 below for the match. He has shot even par up to now within the closing spherical.
And Justin Rose, who led after Thursday and Friday’s rounds, can be tied for fifth place. He is 2 over for the day.
After birdies on Nos. eight and 9, Matsuyama is 13 below par and leads by 5 strokes.
Look out, people: Jon Rahm has now picked up six strokes right this moment and lurched right into a tie for third. Hideki Matsuyama nonetheless has a five-shot lead over Rahm, who entered Sunday at even par for the match.
See you subsequent spring, Nos. 1, 2, Three, Four and 5.
The Masters Tournament area, which Hideki Matsuyama nonetheless tops at this hour at 12 below par for the week, has been zipping by the course as Augusta National Golf Club approaches the crowning of a champion.
Matsuyama opened the day at 11 below, however bogeyed the primary gap earlier than recovering properly on the second, the place he made birdie. Now, by his first 9 holes, Will Zalatoris has narrowed Matsuyama’s result in three strokes.
The participant having the most important day, although, falls slightly below them on the leaderboard. Through 17 holes, Jon Rahm is six below on the day, which has vaulted him from a tie for 21st at dawn to a tie for third. Rahm’s greatest second got here on the second gap, the place he made eagle simply after he carded a birdie on No. 1.
The excellent news for Matsuyama, apart from main the Masters on Sunday, is that he has made it previous the course’s most tough gap. He made par on No. 5. Xander Schauffele, paired with Matsuyama for the spherical, had a catastrophe: double-bogey. Through eight holes, he had shot one over for the day and trailed his companion by six strokes.
Corey Conners didn’t prolong his luck at No. 6, the place he had a hole in one on Saturday. Playing the par-Three within the closing spherical, his tee shot sailed over the inexperienced and a putt simply barely stayed out of the cup. He’s at 5 below par and tied for fifth.
The fifth gap at Augusta National was not at all times so depressing. Then, forward of the 2019 match, the membership added 40 yards and made it the hardest on the course.
It remains to be not a contented place.
Although gamers have stated they had been adjusting to the brand new rigors, the sphere scored a cumulative 103 over par on the par-Four gap throughout the primary three rounds — the handiwork of 84 bogeys, 9 double-bogeys and simply 5 birdies. (The best gap, in case you’re questioning, has been No. eight, with Nos. 6 and 9 roughly within the center.)
Escaping the 2 bunkers earlier than the pin requires 315 of the outlet’s 495 yards, after which there may be one other simply past the inexperienced, which slopes from the again to the entrance.
Gary Player, a three-time Masters winner, stated in an interview final 12 months that with such a gap design in his day, he would have had to make use of a driver and possibly a 5-wood. Then once more, he stated, right this moment’s gamers can afford to method the sport otherwise.
“The ball goes 50 yards further, and the metal heads hit it so much further, and the fairways run more,” he stated. “We never had the conditioned fairways, we never had the metal heads, we never had a ball that goes 50 yards further and curves less.”
All of that however, the outlet has, to place it politely, pushed the sphere bonkers this 12 months. Even Hideki Matsuyama, who entered Sunday’s closing spherical at 11 below par, bogeyed the outlet.
One factor that struck me these previous few days about Will Zalatoris, who’s in second place at eight below par, was his absolute confidence regardless of this being his first Masters. But his pleasure was fairly one thing, too: “You’ll see me every single time when I’m on 12, kind of looking back when we cross the bridge and just kind of looking back on Amen Corner. Enjoy it. I’ve been wanting to do this my entire career, and I put myself in a pretty good spot.” His bogey on No. Three right this moment is a sure disappointment, however he has narrowed Hideki Matsuyama’s result in three strokes.
Bubba Watson’s distinctive tee shot on No. 16 will arrange properly for birdie. Tied for 23rd when he arrived on the gap, the two-time Masters winner is poised to get better properly from his exhibiting in 2020, when he got here in 57th. But chatting with reporters final week, he talked about, of all issues, his Augusta National breakfast order: “two scrambled eggs, two pieces of bacon, two biscuits and hash browns.” An impish fan who was listening from afar known as out that Watson may win his third inexperienced jacket if he upped one thing on his order to — you guessed it — three.
The 5 gamers in first or second place coming into Sunday’s fourth spherical of the Masters have remarkably related final-round rating averages of their earlier appearances on the match. For Hideki Matsuyama, the third-round chief enjoying in his 10th Masters, his fourth-round common rating has been 71.63. The subsequent highest is Justin Rose, who’s 4 strokes behind Matsuyama. Rose’s final-round common in 15 earlier Masters is 71.43.
Marc Leishman, tied with Rose, has the third highest common closing day rating (71.2). Leishman is enjoying in his ninth Masters match. Xander Schauffele has teed it up within the fourth spherical of the Masters three earlier instances and averaged a one-under-par 71.
Will Zalatoris, additionally tied for second place, is a Masters rookie and has by no means performed on the fourth day of the match. Zalatoris can be attempting to change into the primary Masters rookie since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the match.
Zalatoris lower Matsuyama’s result in one with birdies on the primary two holes, however bogeyed No. Three, and after the bogey on No. 1 Matsuyama obtained again to a three-stroke lead with a birdie on No. 2. Xander Schauffele pulled right into a tie with Zalatoris at eight below.
Matsuyama, who began the day with a four-stroke lead at 11 below par, struggled on his opening drive, sending his ball off to the fitting and into the bushes. He bogeyed the primary gap, and his lead has been lower to 1 with Will Zalatoris gaining.
One of the perks of profitable the Masters, apart from the green jacket and an prompt etching into historical past, is a lifetime invitation to play the match.
Seven previous winners survived the lower this 12 months: Phil Mickelson, José María Olazábal, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson. But much more didn’t, together with Dustin Johnson, who gained final 12 months with a tournament-record 20 below par however this time round three-putted six holes.
So why do they arrive again? In Johnson’s case, in fact, it’s as a result of he’s nonetheless within the prime of his profession. But take into account, say, Fred Couples, who gained the 1992 match and has positioned no greater than third in a significant since 2005.
“It’s not a competition for me,” Couples stated final week, earlier than he missed the Masters lower for the third consecutive match. “The competition is for myself to play the course the best I can, and when that becomes havoc, then I will have probably played my last Masters.”
Besides, enjoying or not, most previous winners come back to Augusta each year for the closed-door dinner for the champions and the membership chairman. The 2021 menu, which Johnson chosen and paid for, included pigs-in-a-blanket, filet mignon and peach cobbler.
But for gamers who’re younger sufficient, the hope of one other title lurks. Mickelson, who had a three-under 69 on Saturday to maneuver to even for the match, thought he may nonetheless contend on Sunday — possibly.
“You want that opportunity to do what Nicklaus did in ’86 and shoot 65 and have a chance,” he stated after his third spherical. “I don’t know if that will be good enough, but I’m having a lot of fun.”
When I performed Augusta National the day after Tiger Woods’s 2019 victory, I made a par on the treacherous, pivotal par-Three 12th gap. At about 6 p.m. tonight, I may promote that par to one of many leaders for a princely sum.
Billy Horschel simply made it by No. 13 with out slipping down a slope.
This counts as one thing of an achievement — even when, for the second consecutive day, he wanted to take away his socks and sneakers to make it by the outlet.
Let’s again up. Horschel’s second shot on Saturday landed in Rae’s Creek, one of many risks of the par-5 gap. So Horschel’s socks and sneakers got here off as he ready to attempt a shot from the water. But after he surveyed the inexperienced earlier than his try, he misplaced his footing and slid down the hill, prompting a session with Phil Mickelson, the three-time Masters winner who was his companion for the day, and later blamed the steepness of the financial institution and the wetness of the rye.
“I said, ‘How bad is that grass stain going to be?’” Horschel, who was sporting white pants, recounted after the spherical. “And he said, ‘There may not be one there,’ and he looked and said, ‘Yeah, there’s one there. Sorry, buddy.’” (Asked whether or not he had confronted a extra embarrassing second, he replied: “I’ve ripped my pants a few times — and early in the rounds.”)
The shot went significantly better.
“It was probably a couple inches under the water,” Horschel stated, including, “I knew there was a whole bunch of green behind me, so as long as I hit it hard enough, it would come out.”
It did, lifting up onto the inexperienced and previous the pin to arrange a two-putt, and Horschel finally made par.
“It was an incredible golf shot,” Mickelson stated later. “That’s not easy. Sometimes that thing comes out kind of blah. I’m curious how he hit that.”
Then got here Sunday, when Horschel’s tee shot landed within the water.
Much as Horschel followers may hope, we do not make this up.
Off got here the footwear.
His restoration shot managed to go away the water however headed straight right into a rock-strewn slope. His third shot went just a few inches. At final reducing his losses, he took a drop, solely to see what was technically his fifth stroke wind up within the gallery. Horschel’s sixth put him onto the inexperienced, the place he putted properly.
But it was very a lot a depressing exhibiting on the outlet: eight strokes — good for a triple-bogey that moved him to 6 over par for the match. At least, although, he didn’t rip his pants.
The ambiance as the primary eight or 10 pairings of golfers tee off within the closing spherical of the Masters is at all times a bit peculiar. The opponents are, in principle, vying for the match title, however in actuality they’re too far behind to have a shot and most try play shortly (and properly) to allow them to be executed in time to observe the true present when the match leaders tee off at about 2:40 p.m. Eastern time.
Usually, there are about 40,000 followers on the Augusta National Golf Club grounds to observe the primary teams play and the group is worked up for the ultimate spherical to start out, which supplies even mundane photographs by gamers in 49th place some import.
But at this 12 months’s Masters, there are most likely fewer than 10,000 followers allowed on the property, which makes site visitors to the golf course a breeze. That has meant that the early crowds for the ultimate spherical have been skinny.
The early teams of gamers are making their means round Augusta National with a following that extra intently resembles the final day of an area membership championship than essentially the most celebrated golf match on the planet. At midday right this moment, as Bryson DeChambeau walked to the fifth inexperienced, a pair spectators had been having a dialog with him from 40 yards away — and each events had no hassle listening to one another.
Only on the 2021 Masters.
Two gamers making their debuts on the Masters are within the prime 10. Get excited — however not too excited.
Will Zalatoris, who’s seven below par for the match, completed Saturday’s round in a tie for second. He tees off at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time. And Robert MacIntyre, at two below and teeing off at 2 p.m., was amongst these standing in 10th place on Sunday morning. If both of them can prevail, a mighty ask on condition that Hideki Matsuyama is at 11 below, the Masters could have a first-time participant as its champion, ending a drought that has lasted since Fuzzy Zoeller managed the feat in 1979.
“I’m here because I got here on merit, and I’m here to win a golf tournament,” MacIntyre, a 24-year-old participant from Scotland who certified for the Masters due to his world rating. “If I wasn’t trying to win this golf tournament, I’d be sitting at home with my feet up watching it. I’ve prepared for the last two years or the last year, my goal was top 50 in order to get in this golf tournament because I love watching it so much. I’m here now, and I’m trying to win it.”
Newcomers have made critical runs towards the inexperienced jacket up to now. Just in November, for example, Sungjae Im positioned second within the match, and C.T. Pan completed in a tie for seventh. Abraham Ancer, who entered the ultimate spherical tied with Im for the runner-up slot, was one of many 13th place finishers.
But Zoeller is the one trendy exception to the seeming rule that newcomers should fade on a course that rewards expertise. Just two different males have gained the Masters of their debuts: Horton Smith in 1934, when Augusta National first held the match, and Gene Sarazen adopted him in 1935.
Zalatoris acknowledged that the course might be intimidating. But, he stated, “The fact that I wanted to be here my entire life actually almost frees me up.”
Let’s run by the assessments of the greens — apart from the customary prognosis of “fast and firm” — that we’ve heard over the past week round Augusta National.
“Fiery,” Adam Scott declared. “Very different from the ones in November,” stated C.T. Pan. “Pure,” Kevin Kisner stated.
“If it stays dry, it’ll be as difficult as the course has played in a long, long time, and that’s what I think we need to have,” Fred Couples stated early within the week.
Couples, the 1992 champion, largely obtained his want. But now it has rained — a fast system that pressured a delay in the course of the third spherical on Saturday. (Hideki Matsuyama spent the time, he stated, in his automobile enjoying video games on his cellphone. He completed the day at 11 below par on the week, so possibly there’s a lesson there.)
Virtually nobody is anticipating the greens to be anyplace close to as comfortable as they had been in November, when Dustin Johnson gained the match with a file 20 below. The greens, although, is likely to be just a bit much less glass-like, maybe inviting fewer debacles like Bernd Wiesberger’s eagle putt on No. 15 that rolled all the best way into the water.
Players have spent the match each speaking concerning the perils of the greens and celebrating them.
“It’s set up perfect to identify kind of the best player, and the guys that are striking it well are up on the leaderboard, the guys that are putting it well,” Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner, stated on Saturday. “And I think it’s very fair because we’re making divots, the balls are stopping. It’s not like the ’90s where we weren’t, but you have to have quality shots. You’ve got to hit angles into the pins. You’ve got to be smart.”
Mickelson, who had advised simply days earlier that Augusta National’s greens had been too forgiving lately, declared the course “perfectly done.”
“It punishes you — like it did me the first couple of days — when you make mistakes or don’t put it in the right spot or hit poor chips,” he stated. “I love seeing it like this because you can score low, but you also need to respect it.”
When the 2020 Masters, delayed by coronavirus pandemic, was performed final November, the course was not in its normal springtime form, as Bill Pennington and Alan Blinder reported. The golfers ran amok, and Dustin Johnson gained with a rating of 20 below par, the most important margin of victory within the historical past of the match, with 43 gamers ending below par.
What a distinction a season makes. Here’s what occurred within the first three rounds this week:
On Thursday, the course had its means with the sphere, with solely 11 golfers ending below par. Justin Rose was an outlier, capturing a seven-under-par 65, and led after the first round. Only Rose, Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama shot under 70.
On Friday, the fan favourite Jordan Spieth, who has been waging a gentle comeback and gained his first match since 2017 the earlier week on the Texas Valero Open, turned in an excellent round, a four-under-par 68. He was simply two strokes behind Rose, the second-round chief. In a little bit of a shock, Johnson, the defending champion, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy all failed to make the cut.
A 78-minute rain delay arrange a exceptional run up the leaderboard by Matsuyama. The 29-year-old Japanese star shot 65 to enter Sunday’s final round 11 under par. Four golfers had been tied for second: Rose, Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman and the Masters rookie Will Zalatoris.
Coverage of the Masters Tournament is break up throughout numerous tv networks, streaming platforms and web sites, making it complicated to know learn how to watch. The excellent news is that there are a variety of viewing choices, a few of them free, for golf followers.
Here is how one can catch Sunday’s closing spherical.
The predominant motion
The conventional tv protection of the match’s closing spherical, which can culminate with any individual donning a inexperienced jacket, might be seen on CBS from 2 to 7 p.m. Eastern time. That protection will likely be simulcast within the CBS Sports app and on the Paramount+ streaming service.
Groups start teeing off within the morning, nevertheless, and you can begin watching the Masters together with your espresso. On the Masters livestream there are 4 completely different “channels” to observe:
These choices all start and finish at completely different instances, relying on when the primary golfers attain the completely different holes, however the featured teams channel kicks issues off at 10:25 a.m. Eastern. The featured teams are Paul Casey and Billy Horschel (10:30 a.m.), Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English (11 a.m.), Justin Spieth and Brian Harman (2:10 p.m.) and Justin Rose and Marc Leishman (2:30 p.m.).
You can watch the Masters livestream in numerous completely different locations. ESPN+, Paramount+, the CBS Sports app, CBSSports.com and Masters.com all carry it.
If you might be extra curious about evaluation from speaking heads and pictures of golfers training earlier than their tee instances, the Golf Channel is reside from the Masters each earlier than and after the primary protection on CBS. If you miss the ultimate spherical, encore protection begins nearly instantly, at eight p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network.
The Masters Tournament is likely one of the South’s grandest spring traditions. Doug Mills, a New York Times employees photographer, has been capturing the ambiance all week:
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