Hideki Matsuyama 65 motored away from the chasing pack at Augusta National on Saturday. Amid lightly falling rain and the scent of the magnolias the Japanese golfer played magnificent golf. Justin Rose 72 has been unable to reproduce the terrific golf he played on the opening day of the Masters. This crack field of international golfers struggled to adapt to slower greens affected by the light rain. Two days of being punished by lightning-fast greens was firmly embedded in their bodies and brains. Despite more receptive greens scores were not generally lower, apart from the genius of Hideki Matsuyama. It was a case of Matsuyama magic at the Master’s third round.
First Japanese Player to Lead the Masters
Matsuyama shot a 7 under round of 65 to lead the tournament at 11 under. His was the first bogey free round completed at this year’s Masters. This GolfDom correspondent was mightily impressed by the stroke play and concentration displayed by Matsuyama. Commentators referred to the media interest that will be generated in Japan by the impressive performance and leading position of their star player. “It will be crazy”, according to Nick Faldo, past triple champion and current commentator on American network CBS. Xander Schauffele 68 at 7 under is in a share of second place. Will Zalatoris 71 playing in the last group alongside Rose was very good in such a high-pressure situation is, also, at 7 under par. Justin Rose 72 shares second at 7 under the card after Saturday.
Players Struggled with the Slower Greens
Marc Leishman 70 played steady golf without making much happen. Putts did not reach the hole, as was common for the majority of the field competing at Augusta National on the third day. Leishman remains right in contention at 7 under, however, for Sunday. Corrie Conners 68 posted another fine round to place him at 6 under par. Jordon Speith 72 had a typically up and down day, displaying a remarkable ability to chip in and make crucial putts to leave him at 5 under. Brian Harman 74 is at 4 under par. Tony Finau 73 is at 3 under par. Kim, Weisberger, and MacIntyre sit at 2 under par after Saturday.
Less Than 20 Players Under Par at Augusta National after Saturday
Cameron Smith 73 did not have the round he was hoping for but managed to get into negative figures at 1 under par. He joins a bunch of players including Reed 70, Stenson 71, Thomas 75, Palmer 73, Hovland 72, Cink 72, and Na 70. The final day will see eight players within striking distance of Hideki Matsuyama and we should witness another classic finish to this year’s Master’s tournament.