Hideki Matsuyama could make history at Augusta National today but will it be the right kind or the wrong kind?
Matsuyama holds a four-shot lead after an exhibition of approach play fired him to a Saturday 65 and is now strong favourite to become Japan’s first Masters champion. In fact, he would be the first male Japanese player to win any of golf’s major championships.
“This will be a new experience for me, being a leader going into the final round in a major,” said Matsuyama, who was only one under for his third round before the weather delay.
“All I can do is just relax as I can tonight, prepare well and just do my best tomorrow.”
If there is hope for the rest of the field, it is in the fact Matsuyama found just four fairways on Saturday and he does have a history of having cold days with the putter. Nevertheless, he has won a WGC event and other significant PGA Tour tournaments so is unlikely to wilt.
Of the last 30 Masters champions, 25 have come from the final pairing where Xander Schauffele is paired with Matusyama. 28 straight major winners have been within 4 of the lead entering the final round. Also with Schauffele on seven-under are: Marc Leishman, Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris.
Rose’s long game was very ragged late on Saturday but he leaned on his short game to escape from the 17th and 18th with pars to just about give himself a chance. Rose surprised everyone with his seven-under 65 on Thursday but it has been a grind since. He needs a cleaner ball-striking day to stand a chance of catching Matsuyama.
Jordan Spieth did not quite produce the Saturday charge we expected but will feel he has an outside chance with a low round today. Spieth starts at five-under.