Starting the day with a four-way deadlock at the top, Charley Hoffman separated himself from the pack with surgical play on the front nine. As it often does, the back nine proved pivotal and provided its typical flurry of surges. Jordan Spieth worked his way into contention while Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia were able to track down and overtake Hoffman after he rinsed his tee shot on the 16th. Heading into Sunday golf fans couldn’t dream up a better leaderboard with Garcia and Rose leading the way at 6 under. Rickie Fowler is alone in third at 5 under, and Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore and Jordan Spieth are at 4 under. Full scores
Round of the day
Lost in CBS’s coverage was Justin Rose’s Saturday-best 67. Pre-conceived storylines and a Spieth surge took cameras away from the high-profile pairing of Rose and former champion Adam Scott. After turning in even par, Rose scorched the back nine, birdieing five of the last seven to shoot up the leaderboard and into the lead. The Englishman has twice finished runner-up at Augusta, including last year when he shot 14-under, a total that would have won in nearly every other year.
While it was disappointing to not see more of Rose, it was a tough Saturday of golf to cover for CBS because of how many star players were on the leaderboard. I thought they did a great job of showing a ton of golf shots and not montages. Let’s pray this continues tomorrow.
The tale of two players
Starting the day four off the lead, Jordan Spieth flashed what makes him special. He didn’t hit towering 350 yard tee shots or laserlike approaches, but simply showed his ability to manufacture a score. Spieth’s stellar Saturday 68 was defined by his ability to get up and down from less-than-ideal spots. He was behind the 10th green, short-sided on 12th and behind the trees on the 15th and he played those holes 1 under. This knack for scoring and escaping tough situations has him in great shape to grab another Green Jacket, despite a quadruple bogey 9 in Round 1.
Meanwhile, McIlroy repeatedly missed short putts and wasted golden scoring opportunities that could have thrust the star into contention. In many ways, Rory’s game has become the antithesis to Spieth’s, a swashbuckling talent that produces a handful of exceptional performances despite seemingly always leaving a few shots on the course. Saturday’s 1 under performance will leave him 6 shots back and needing a herculean performance to complete the career grand slam.
Who has a shot?
Here’s a quick rundown of the players with a chance to snag the Green Jacket. Their tee times will start at 1:35 pm EST.
Even Par: Rory McIlroy - Matt Kuchar - Søren Kjeldsen - Paul Casey - William “Dirt” McGirt - Jon Rahm
Your extreme longshots, but I still think they have a chance, this group of five will have to play absolutely perfect rounds, likely around 64. Of this group, I only think that Rory, Casey or Rahm have it in them on a pressure-packed Sunday.
1 under: Lee Westwood - Thomas Pieters
Death, taxes and Lee Westwood in contention at the Masters. Westwood has finished in the top 11 in seven of the past nine Masters and once again finds himself with a chance on Sunday. Westy will need his putter to come to the party for him to have any chance while five shots back. While Pieters seemingly couldn’t catch a break, having a number of putts hit lips and burn edges during Saturday’s 75, he has shown flashes this week of having the ability to go very low at Augusta.
2 Under: Charl Schwartzel
After a spectacular Sunday 68, 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel finds himself in the mix for another Green Jacket. If Schwartzel can play the front nine in a couple under par, he has the distance and game to shred the back nine.
3 under: Adam Scott
The 2013 champion cruised to a bogey-free 69 on Saturday and is in prime position to win another Green Jacket. Much like Schwartzel the key to a Scott victory will be a strong front nine in order to set up a back-nine run.
4 under: Jordan Spieth - Ryan Moore - Charley Hoffman
All eyes will be on Jordan Spieth, who has yet to finish a Masters outside of the top two. This year will be the first time he plays Sunday outside of the final-group, instead paired with Rickie Fowler in the second-to-last pairing. Charley Hoffman will look to regroup from his disappointing close on Saturday while Ryan Moore continues to fly under the radar. Moore is among the better players in golf without a major and much like Danny Willett last year is the guy that no one is talking about.
5 under: Rickie Fowler
Rickie has been rock solid all week and will look to win his first major championship from just one shot back. With how he has been putting, he has as good a chance as anyone today.
6 under: Justin Rose - Sergio Garcia
Rose will look to add a Green Jacket to his U.S. Open and Olympic Gold Medal, while Sergio will attempt to end his career of major championship heartbreak. Garcia’s third round was solid, not spectacular and by committing limited mistakes and taking care of business on the par 5’s he finds himself with the 54-hole co-lead. Garcia’s ball-striking has been remarkable this week and if that continues, it will be tough for him to shoot an over-par round.
It will be another picture perfect day at Augusta National with very little wind and temperatures in the 70s, meaning it will set up for someone to shoot a low round. I expect the winner to be at 8 or 9 under and with so many great players in contention a thrilling finish should be in store. In the end I have a feeling that it’s Fowler’s week because of the Rose-Garcia-Fowler trio he is the best putter.