So far in this 81st Masters, the breaks have been nearly exclusively good for Garcia, who fired a third-round, 2-under 70 – nearly five shots better than his third-round average in 13 previous Saturdays at Augusta – to maintain his share of the lead.
Jason Day had the good fortune to be the first one on the course on Saturday, playing with a marker.
Augusta National provided much calmer conditions Saturday afternoon after two days of swirling breezes. “It was hard but it was fun to play well again, to go through a Saturday at the Masters with a chance at winning and to be up there going into tomorrow”.
Jason Day also had a good round, shooting a 3-under 69 to lie at 3-over going into the final round.
It was a miserable day for four-times major champion Ernie Els, who was seeking his first Masters title at the age of 47. “Still going to be behind, but in a position to kind of make some noise early”.
The Olympic gold medalist had been going nowhere on the front side before he and his caddie regrouped after the seventh, when Rose was five strokes out of first place. He even got a fortunate break – yes, Sergio Garcia had that happen in a major – when his second shot on 13 dipped into the hazard, but stayed up on the shaved bank above the creek.
But Hoffman, one of four to share the overnight lead after the first two rounds, slipped behind Rose and Garcia after finding water on the par-three 16th and ending with a double bogey.
Rose, victor of the 2013 US Open, said the course was in magnificent shape and gave him the opportunity to be rewarded for playing great golf, reports Efe. And two became one at the 15th when, after a pulled drive forced him to lay up, he hit a near-perfect wedge which spun back to within inches of the cup for another gain to get to five under. With no way to get it close, Hoffman played it safe and wound up with a two-putt par from 20 feet. He and I could potentially get off to a good start and we could really push each other.
“I went to bed with my heart pumping faster last night because of (Friday’s) round than I probably will tonight, because I already knew I had a chance”, he said. “Finishing fifth versus 10th doesn’t mean much to me”.
– Rickie Fowler, who played alongside Spieth in the next-to-last group, has been a marked man in the majors after posting top 5-or-better finishes in all four majors three years ago. He was three shots behind, a name on the white leaderboards that was getting everyone’s attention. Hoffman battled for par on the last hole to stay just two shots behind. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I don’t even know how much it would mean to be able to join both my idols as a Masters victor”.
The conclusion of the 2017 Masters is upon us, and the leaderboard is absolutely stacked. “I was a little frustrated”. Missing numerous birdie chances on the front nine, the Spaniard shot four birdies and two bogeys to maintain his spot at the top of the leaderboard. But his sand shot caught the slope and ran some 65 feet away. With a par-bogey start on the hole this week, Garcia found the right second cut off the tee and then hit what he thought to be a good second shot, only to have it come out “soft” and end up short of the green.
“Fortunately for me, that bank seems to be a tiny bit longer this year, which is nice”, Garcia said.
Only 10 players remained under par, all of them separated by five shots. I was able to regroup and make a couple pars coming in. Pieters, a Masters rookie, and Fowler teed off first, then Hoffman and Garcia followed.
“I had 228 (yards) to the hole”.
Hoffman lamented his “bad swing” on 16 but chose to emphasize the two “good birdie looks” he had on 17 and 18, although he made neither one.