Spieth sends his tee shot at 16 into MacIntyre Country, the ball failing to catch the slope towards the hole. He’s left with that tricky two-putt for par, but he’s got more experience round here than the young man from Oban, and grinds it out. He stays at -7. Meanwhile back on 15, Rose’s second into the green spins back down the bank and into the drink. It was a brilliant opening-day 65 by Rose, but nothing’s quite clicked since.
Matsuyama sends a confident, borderline aggressive putt towards the cup. It nicks the left lip and rolls on a couple of feet, but he makes the one coming back. Schauffele then tidies up for his third birdie in a row. This is still not quite over. It’s been a very impressive comeback by Schauffele, after that four-shot capitulation of 3, 4 and 5. Birdie for Zalatoris at 15, by the way. The debutant hasn’t thrown in the towel yet either!
-13: Matsuyama (14)
-9: Schauffele (14)
-8: Zalatoris (15)
-7: Spieth (15)
Matsuyama knocks his approach at 14 to 13 feet. That’s magnificent, but nothing on Schauffele’s effort, which nearly spins into the cup. He’ll surely tap that in from a couple of feet for a birdie that’ll take him up to -9. But first, can the leader slot his chance away? It’d be another match-play style bodyblow for Schauffele if he does!
Schauffele and Matsuyama take turns to split the 14th fairway. Matsuyama is all smiles again. Up on 15, it’s just a par for Spieth, and that’s his last chance of applying some distant pressure on the leader gone. And on 16, MacIntyre three-putts to slip back to -12, just outside the places for an automatic invitation for 2022. Bah.
Matsuyama responds to all this sudden adversity with aplomb! He chips gracefully down from the bank, from 30 yards to three feet. Schauffele fails to make his eagle putt, having been spooked in the match-play style, and what briefly threatened to become a two-shot swing – maybe more – ends with both men carding birdies. That was a marvellous response by the leader, and that delicate, nerveless chip is probably the shot that secures the win.
-13: Matsuyama (13)
-8: Schauffele (13)
-7: Spieth (14), Zalatoris (14)
-6: Rahm (F), Rose (13)
-5: Reed (17), Leishman (13)
Great news of Oban’s finest, Bob MacIntyre! Having started slowly with bogey at 1 and double at 6, he’s since birdied 8, 9, 12 and now 15, a run that’s brought him up to -3, and a place in the top ten that’d ensure his return next year. Mind you, his tee shot into 16 doesn’t catch the slope, and that’ll be a hideous two putts down the green for par.
All of a sudden, Matsuyama isn’t thinking straight. You’d imagine with his advantage, he’d lay up from the first cut. But he decides to whip a long iron over the creek. He tugs it, and the ball’s heading for the azaleas, but it fortunately hits the bank and sits down in the greenside rough. Still not ideal, but had that ball been sailing a few inches higher, it’d have plugged in the shrubbery. Schauffele, sensing a slither of light, turns the heat up by arrowing his second from 165 yards to ten feet! He’ll have a great look for eagle. Well, well, well. Masters Sunday, right here!
The first sign of nerves from Matsuyama since the opening few holes? He sends his drive at 13 into the trees down the right, and gets a huge break as the ball crashes off a trunk and is spat back out into the first cut. He breaks into a jog and pops off to the Little Room. Who can blame him? I’d be necking so much Imodium in his position, you could rattle me like a pair of maracas.
The 2018 champ Patrick Reed is putting together a nice little finishing flourish. Four birdies in a row, the latest at 16, where he nearly aced in the traditional Sunday style, the ball feeding down towards the hole from the centre of the green. He’s -5, suddenly tied for sixth. He’ll be cursing his 75 on Friday.
Matsuyama can’t make his par saver, but he’ll have mentally settled for bogey the minute his tee shot found sand. Meanwhile Schauffele rattles in a birdie putt from the fringe, while Spieth converts his chance at 14. So suddenly the lead is only – only! – five, but now three players are on his shoulder. It’s not quite over yet.
-12: Matsuyama (12)
-7: Spieth (14), Zalatoris (13), Schauffele (12)
-6: Rahm (F)
If anyone’s going to make a Hail Mary run at Matsuyama, you’d imagine it’d be Jordan Spieth. Having just birdied 13, he now slings his second at 14 from 150 yards to five feet! If he gets that … well, let’s not get silly, but Matsuyama is very conservative with his splash out of the bunker at the back of 12, in order to avoid a dramatic splash in the creek. (Remember how Tiger ran up double figures here back in November!) He’ll have a 20-footer for par.
A lovely warm cheer for Matsuyama as he reaches the 12th tee. The patrons know their
onions, and they’re almost certainly serenading the new Masters champion. Matsuyama sends his tee shot over the green into the bunker at the back. Not ideal, but neither is it wet. Six shots ahead, he’ll take that.
Another sensational approach by Tony Finau! Unlike the one on 7, this one at 14 is all skill, no luck, pitching 20 feet past the flag and using a combination of bank and backspin to reverse his ball into the cup for birdie. He’s -2. Meanwhile back on 11, two careful putts for Matsuyama and it’s a more than acceptable par. He’s one step closer to glory … although the next shot is the one he’ll have been dreading. Stay dry at 12, and you’d imagine he’ll make it home safely. Here we go, then!
Spieth reaches the par-five 13th with two big booms. But his measly reward is a 50-foot eagle curler. He does very well to tease his first putt to four feet, but birdie’s not enough if he’s to force a dramatic capitulation. He’s seven back at -6.
Zalatoris yips his short par putt, and there’s no pressure being applied whatsoever to Matsuyama. The leader is now six clear, he’s found 11 in regulation, and surely the only person that can now beat him is the man himself.
-13: Matsuyama (10)
-7: Zalatoris (12)
-6: Rahm (F), Schauffele (10)
-5: Spieth (12), Rose (11)
Up on 18, a final bogey for Phil Mickelson. He signs for a 72 and the three-time champ ends the week at level par. It’s been a good week for the 50-year-old, and could the golfing gods arrange a fairytale at Torrey Pines in June, please?
Zalatoris’s tee shot at 12 doesn’t quite reach the green … but it’s close, and sticks dutifully on the bank without any Couplesesque drama. He’ll take that, though he nips over the Hogan Bridge like an Olympic walker, with a view to taking his second quickly, just in case his ball has any notions of rolling down the slope. No real worries of that, and he wedges quickly to four feet.
Matsuyama is left with an uphill right-to-left curler from 30 feet. He nearly teases it into the cup, but the ball stays an inch high on the right. He taps in for par … as does Schauffele after nearly draining his 25-footer … as does Zalatoris on 11 … as does Spieth on 12, after nearly clipping his chip in for birdie. It’s all happening, if it’s permissible to say that after four quickfire pars.
-13: Matsuyama (10)
-8: Zalatoris (11)
-6: Rahm (F), Schauffele (10)
-5: Spieth (12), Leishman (10), Rose (10)
Back on 10, both Matsuyama and Schauffele find the dancefloor in regulation. Wide smiles as they walk up the fairway. Nervous smiles, maybe, with Amen Corner looming. Up on 11, Zalatoris reaches the green in two, but leaves himself a jittery four-footer for his par. He’ll really need to make that.
Jordan Spieth, having lived through a back-nine capitulation here, won’t be making any assumptions quite yet. He’s certainly not the type to throw in the towel, and from the fringe at 11, bundles a chip from 90 feet to four. What a par save! He remains at -5. Then the tee shot at 12 that caused him so much angst in 2016 … and he pushes it a little. For a second, it looks like holding the fringe. Then it looks like picking up speed and dropping into Rae’s Creek. Finally it snags in the second cut, staying dry. He’ll have half a chance of bumping in a chip, and a great chance of the up and down that’ll save another par.
Yep, the final group on Sunday has reached the 10th tee. This is where Rory McIlroy’s dreams started to unravel spectacularly a decade ago, as he hooked his drive towards the cabins. No such fate befalls Hideki Matsuyama, who sends a gentle draw down the track. This is impressive stuff from the 29-year-old Japanese star, who has recovered magnificently from his stuttering start.
Zalatoris sends his approach at 10 a little long. An excitable putt back leads to bogey. That could be so costly, as back on 9, Matsuyama caresses his second to four feet, leaving himself an uphill birdie putt. In it goes, and he’s turning in 34 … with a five-shot lead. Jordan Spieth infamously failed to convert this exact situation into glory five years ago, so nothing’s certain, but this is beginning to look like a procession. Not that the player himself will allow that thought to cross his mind, of course.
-13: Matsuyama (9)
-8: Zalatoris (10)
-6: Rahm (F), Schauffele (9)
-5: Spieth (10), Leishman (9), Rose (9)
Jon Rahm is desperate for one last birdie to make that clubhouse lead look a little bit more ominous. He crashes his drive at 18 into Position A, sending a power fade around the corner, then wedges over the flag to 15 feet. He tickles the putt down the green … but it stops one turn short. Just a par, though that’s an exquisite final round of 66. His final total of -6 won’t be enough to win, unless something really strange unfolds, but what does it matter, when little Kepa and wife Kelley will be so proud of him?
Misery for Rose on 9, as an eight-foot par putt horseshoes out. He had to step away from that a couple of times, as gusts of wind played havoc with his stance and, more crucially I’ll be bound, his mental equilibrium. He slips back to -5. The chasing pack can’t afford a single slip, and the look of despair washing across Rose’s face illustrates that completely.
That’s a hell of a leader board, you know. Not least because, Jordan Spieth apart, nobody on it has a green jacket to their name. Additionally, Justin Rose is the only other player up there with a major to his name. And the wind is seriously picking up. Let those nerve ends jingle-jangle!
Spieth converts his birdie chance on 10. He moves to -5, and you never know, you just never know. Having said that, Matsuyama gets up and down from the back of 8, the reward for a glorious pitch, while Schauffele refuses to lie down, making it back-to-back birdies with a chip and putt of his own.
-12: Matsuyama (8)
-9: Zalatoris (9)
-6: Rahm (17), Rose (8), Schauffele (8)
-5: Spieth (10), Leishman (8)
Zalatoris makes his par putt at 9! That’s a street-fighting two-putt par on one of the trickiest greens on the course. He turns in 34 with a smile. This is one heck of a performance from a young man with ice – iced tea? – in the veins. He’s -9. Meanwhile up on 17, Rahm gets up and down from a valley to the right of the green, saving par to keep his outside hopes alive. He’s -6.
Up on 9, Zalatoris tickles his putt down the green as slowly as he possibly can. But even breathing on the ball is an act of wanton hoodlummery on this glassy surface, and his effort rolls a good eight feet past. He’ll have a testing par putt coming back. Meanwhile Jordan Spieth hasn’t given up quite yet. A birdie at 9 brings him back to -4, and now he’s drawn a delicious iron from 210 yards at 10 to four feet. Matsuyama came home in 30 yesterday; should Spieth do something similar, he may ask a few questions. Hey, what’s the point in watching sport if you’re not allowed to dream preposterous dreams?
Schauffele bombs his second into the swale to the right of the par-five 8th green. Matsuyama meanwhile has found a nice lie in the second cut to the right of the bunkers on the right. He’s able to fire a low 3-wood into the heart of the green … and is pretty unlucky to see his ball topple off the back. There’s not a lot of green to play with there, with the pin tucked up there, but on the other hand he’s not gone all the way down the slope, so it’s swings and roundabouts in that sense.
An unlucky bounce for Zalatoris on 9. He sends his approach over the flag, and it looks for all the world like it’s going to spin back close. But somehow it digs in on its second bounce, and refuses to reverse. That’s left him with a treacherous putt down this famously sloping green.
Matsuyama’s drive down 8 misses the fairway bunker on the right, but he might find his route into the green compromised by a tree. Let’s see where that’s ended up. Schauffele splits the fairway, as does Zalatoris up on 9. This Masters is far from over. Like that’s breaking news: we all know it doesn’t start in earnest until the final group hit the turn on Sunday anyway. They’ll be hitting it soon! This is on!
Matsuyama yips it! A groan from the gallery, who know how costly that short birdie miss could be. So the gap at the top remains just two strokes. Remember he started four ahead. Schauffele makes no mistake, and it’s a birdie that stems the bleeding. Meanwhile just a par for Rahm on 16, and he’s running out of holes if he’s to post a clubhouse score that’d seriously concern the leading bunch.
-11: Matsuyama (7)
-9: Zalatoris (8)
-6: Rahm (16), Rose (7)
-5: Leishman (7), Schauffele (7)
Birdie for Will Zalatoris at the par-five 8th. He moves to within two of Matsuyama, but the leader may be about to stretch ahead again, as both he and Schauffele have sent their approaches at 7 from 115 yards to four or five feet! Meanwhile Bob MacIntyre birdies 9, hitting the turn in 37. He’s in red figures again at -1.
A dropped shot for Marc Leishman at 7, the Aussie sending a chip 12 feet past the flag, and failing to nail the putt coming back. But his partner Justin Rose moves the other way, sending a glorious second to five feet, and knocking in the birdie putt. A reminder that he’s not enjoyed the first seven holes at all this week, but made hay on the back nine. Nothing’s over quite yet. It’s unlikely … but not over. See also: Jon Rahm, who gets up and down from the back of 15 to move into a share of third. He couldn’t, could he? The biggest final-round comeback in the Masters was by Jack Burke in 1956, pipping Ken Venturi from eight back. He’ll need another couple of birdies, surely, if he’s to set a target that would seriously worry Matsuyama.
-11: Matsuyama (6)
-8: Zalatoris (7)
-6: Rahm (15), Rose (7)
-5: Leishman (7)
Matsuyama is so close to draining his birdie putt on 6. It looks like dropping, but shaves the right lip and refuses to drop. Par, though, and he remains three in the lead at -11. Schauffele needs something, but his dies off to the left, and his par keeps him stuck at -4.
After that shaky three-hole stretch, Matsuyama may well have steadied the ship with that par scramble. He sends his tee shot at the par-three 6th to 15 feet, setting up a fine birdie chance. Schauffele, perhaps feeling less pressure now so much damage has been done, replicates the shot. He’ll have a look at birdie as well.
Zalatoris tugs his short birdie putt left at 7. A groan from the gallery. But there’s a roar back on 5, where Matsuyama rattles in a confident – borderline aggressive – par saver from 17 feet, and that’s some momentum saver! Schauffele does well to limit his damage to double bogey, splashing his second effort out of sand to three feet, but he’s dropped all the way down to -4, and that’s four shots gone in three holes.
-11: Matsuyama (5)
-8: Zalatoris (7)
-6: Leishman (6)
-5: Rahm (14), Rose (6)
-4: Schauffele (5)
-3: Smith (12), Spieth (7), Harman (7), Conners (7)
Matsuyama gives himself a chance of escaping 5 with par, wedging from 100 yards to 17 feet. More bother for Schauffele, though, who hoicks his third into sand over the back. He leaves his fourth in the sand, and his Masters slipping away from him here. Schauffele is usually a calm presence at the majors – his superb record of top-ten finishes demonstrates that – but his head is spinning here.
Matsuyama takes his medicine from the deep bunker to the left of the 5th fairway. Just a sand wedge to get back onto the fairway. Schauffele meanwhile has a real poser near the bushes to the right. His ball has stopped just short of disappearing, so he can advance it … but he’s not got much of a swing. He does very well to force it a few yards left and into the second cut. So with the leader struggling, here’s news of the second-placed Zalatoris, who whips his approach at 7 to ten feet! He’ll have a good look at birdie, and right now he looks capable of anything. He’s the only player who seems to be enjoying himself right now, and that could end up being the difference this afternoon!
Matsuyama’s drive at 5 finds sand down the left, while Schauffele, his head addled since that mistake chipping into 3, slices into the woods on the other side of the hole. Up on the green – and you’ll have worked this out already from the leader board just posted – Rose drops another shot after sending a heavy-handed chip 16 feet past the flag.
Matsuyama plays it safe at the long par-three 4th, sending his iron to the back-left portion of the green. He cradles a 60-foot putt to a couple of feet, and tidies up for a fine two-putt par. Schauffele can’t get up and down from the sand at the front, though, and it’s back-to-back bogeys for the Californian.
-11: Matsuyama (4)
-8: Zalatoris (6)
-6: Leishman (5), Schauffele (4)
-5: Rahm (13), Conners (6), Rose (5)
One of the shots of the week by Tony Finau! Admittedly it’s an absurd one, a low iron fizzed up towards the 7th green from under the branches down the right. His ball flies into the bunker, rears up into the air straight left, then rolls serenely on a huge left-to-right arc towards the pin. It nestles a couple of inches from the cup, and he kicks in for a comedic par. He’s -2.
The course is becoming a little less responsive, while the nerves are certainly kicking in. Of the top ten players, only three – Will Zalatoris, Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith – are under par for their rounds today.
-11: Matsuyama (3)
-8: Zalatoris (5)
-7: Schauffele (3)
-6: Conners (5), Leishman (4), Rose (4)
-5: Rahm (13)
-3: Smith (10), Spieth (6), Harman (6)
Schauffele can’t get up and down from the front of 3. Bogey, and he falls out of a share of second. Matsuyama scrambles his par, though. Up on 5, Conners, always out of position after his drive, settles for bogey. Not the worst hole to drop a shot on; it’s been vying with 10 as the hardest on the course this week, so he’s not giving up too much to the field. (Incidentally, on that subject, here’s what difference a pin position can make; the 3rd has been playing as one of the easier holes this week, but today it’s been the sixth hardest, the flag tucked away on the shallow shelf to the left. Schauffele shouldn’t beat himself up too much.)
Bryson DeChambeau finishes his up-and-down week in some style, walloping a 374-yard drive over the dogleg and past the big bunkers. A wedge and a putt, and that’s a valedictory birdie. He signs for a 75, ending up at +5 for the Tournament. It hasn’t gone to plan, but it’s been a blast nonetheless. What an entertainer!
So much for laying up short. Matsuyama takes an age over his wedge into 3, the wind swirling. He eventually gives it too much, the ball flying over both flag and green. That’s a hell of a chip coming back. Schauffele next. He finds himself in two or three minds as well. In the end, he bumps one up … and doesn’t give it enough. A really skittish effort that is never going to reach the green, toppling apologetically back down the slope at the front. Whatever you try, Augusta National’s got a trap set for you.
One of the shots of the day by Jon Rahm, who sends his short iron into the iconic and extremely troublesome par-three 12th straight at the flag. He leaves himself a three-footer for birdie, and it’s one that he’s not missing. He moves to -5 for both round and championship.
So many players have bashed their drives at 3 to the bottom of the bank at the front of the green, only to leave themselves a delicate, short, blind chip towards a small landing zone. Hats off to the final pair, then, who put their brains in gear. Schauffele sends a stinger down the right, leaving himself a full view of the dancefloor, and more room to work with. Matsuyama takes a different approach, with iron off the tee, presumably to leave himself a perfect yardage and a full swing. Of course theory is all good and well; let’s see how this pans out.
A clumsy bump-and-run from the back of 3 costs Leishman a shot. Bad news for his partner Rose too, who pulls a dismal putt from six feet. These two continue their lockstep jig around Augusta: bogey-birdie-bogey, and they’re both -6 again.
Sky have a word with a very cheerful Tyrrell Hatton, the current clubhouse leader at -1. “It’s fairly tricky out there … a bit softer than the last few days … the wind is all over the place and you have to pick your moments … I’m very happy and I’ve finally broke 70 at Augusta! … it’s nice to shoot a good score, I don’t feel the course suits me that well … I’ll take confidence and hopefully can do a bit better next year.”
Matsuyama and Schauffele both send their second shots at 2 into the Zalatoris Bunker guarding the front right of the green … and both flop out as elegantly as the debutant did earlier on. Both make their birdie putts, and that puts a different sheen on things. Matsuyama’s four-shot lead, which quickly shrivelled to one, is suddenly three again!
-11: Matsuyama (2)
-8: Zalatoris (3), Schauffele (2)
-7: Conners (3), Leishman (2), Rose (2)
-5: Spieth (4)
Zalatoris booms his drive at 3 to the foot of the slope near the green. He’s left himself with a short, blind chip up to an eight-yard deep section of the green. Over it goes, and he’s clumsy with the one coming back. That’s a bogey, and the end of his flying start.
-10: Matsuyama (1)
-8: Zalatoris (3)
-7: Conners (3), Leishman (2), Rose (2), Schauffele (1)
-5: Spieth (4)
Cameron Champ is this close to making the third hole-in-one of the week, and the second at 16 after Tommy Fleetwood’s effort on Thursday. He lands his tee shot to the right of the flag, allowing the slope to gather the ball towards the cup in the traditional Sunday style. Just one more turn, that’s all it required. He makes birdie that takes him back to level par.
Matsuyama sends a nerve-settling fairway-splitter down the 2nd. That should do him the world of good after that shaky opening hole. Schauffele flirts with danger down the left but just about holds the fairway. Up on the green, Rose and Leishman, having both been forced to lay up, take a chip and a putt for bounceback birdies. They’ve been in lockstep so far, and are back up to -7. Meanwhile up on 18, par for Tyrrell Hatton. His 68 leaves him at -1 for the week, and he’s the very early clubhouse leader.
Matsuyama is so unlucky! He rolls a fine putt straight at the cup, but just as it looks like dropping, it drifts wide left by the width of one dimple. So close to escaping with a par. But it’s an opening bogey, and within minutes of his taking to the tee, his four-shot advantage has shrunk to one.
-10: Matsuyama (1)
-9: Zalatoris (2)
-7: Conners (2), Schauffele (1)
-6: Leishman (1), Rose (1)
-5: Spieth (3)
-4: Rahm (10), Harman (3)
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