Moving day? Matsuyama’s day. By demonstrating how even a brief delay in a tournament, in this case 75 minutes, can totally change his complexion, Hideki Matsuyama emerged to leave the rest of the Masters field clinging to the air.
You are now 18 holes from the creation of the story; as the first Asian winner of the Masters and the only Japanese to win a major. A decade ago, Matsuyama earned low amateur honors at Augusta. Since then, his best result has been fifth in 2015; a replay of the final round of 66 as rebuilt would be more than enough to seal what would be the greatest achievement of his career.
Matsuyama’s third round of 65, which included just 30 shots in the last nine, gave him a four-shot lead at 11-under. Matsuyama was simply part of the conversation against an eagle on the 15th, backed by birdies on his next two holes.
However, it could be said that the best moment of Matsuyama’s day came last. Having found X-rated territory behind the green with an adrenaline-fueled approach, the 29-year-old found the touch of an angel to drop a pair of tap-ins. “The rain allowed me to spin the ball,” Matsuyama said, rather modestly, later.
Matsuyama delivered the only 18 holes without ghosts of the 85th Masters so far. Simply put, he adjusted better than any other player on the field to the afternoon break when it was necessary to dodge a thunderstorm.
Matsuyama spent the break in his car, playing games on his mobile phone. “I played well today,” Matsuyama said. “I just stuck to my game plan. Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow. “
Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, Marc Leishman, and Will Zalatoris sit closer to Matsuyama. Rose rescued the pair at last for a 72 fighter. Corey Conners is six under.
Jordan Spieth will regret a bogey at 16, which slid him back to five-under, and a birdie putt that missed at last. The rejuvenated Texan provided typically crowd-pleasing moments with a superb pine straw approach in the eighth and chip-in in the tenth, but those steps forward have been offset by aberrations. He is six behind a 72.
Justin Thomas, for so long a contender, completely fell apart with an eight at 13. A 75 put him 10 short of Matsuyama. With two plus and having shot 75 on Saturday, Bryson DeChambeau’s race is run. DeChambeau may still discover Augusta, but it’s still a work in progress.
Long before, Billy Horschel had earned his infamy online with a moment that, to his credit, he was perfectly happy to laugh. In bare feet and white pants, Horschel slipped on his back as he approached his ball, which was consigned to Rae’s Creek at 13.
Horschel’s mood was likely improved by the fact that he dusted himself off not only successfully jumping out of danger, but also saving the pair. Phil Mickelson, Horschel’s playmate, managed to keep his face straight.
Horschel explained: “I said to Phil, ‘How bad is that patch of grass going to be?’ And he said, ‘There may not be one there.’ Then he looked and said, ‘Yes, there is one there. I’m sorry friend.’ “I ripped my pants on the field a few times and early in the rounds. There have been some embarrassing things and it happens. I don’t know, maybe it’s me and the things I do mean it just happens. I’m fine with that, it’s funny. You can’t laugh at it and have fun with it, that’s fine. I do a lot of that laughing on my own. “
Mickelson, who has produced the wonderfully unorthodox on golf courses for decades, was filled with admiration for Horschel’s recovery from the creek.
“He took one of the best shots I’ve ever seen,” Mickelson said. “There were two balls in the water that I was looking at, one was half submerged, the other was completely submerged. I thought for sure his ball was half submerged. No. He went after that completely submerged ball and pulled that thing out. It was an incredible golf shot. “
Horschel’s 73 for an aggregate plus four means he won’t upset the leaders on the fourth day. The same cannot be said for Mickelson, who moved up the leaderboard after signing for a 69. At an even level, Mickelson cannot be ruled out for claiming what would be the fourth Green Jacket, 17 years after winning the first. . If Matsuyama capitulates, he hasn’t won since 2017, the tournament would be difficult to call.
“I’ll need to shoot something in my 60s and 60s, but it’s still fun to have a chance,” said Mickelson, 50. “You want that chance to do what Nicklaus did in ’86 and shoot ’65 for a chance.” Never say Never.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism