After the third day the Japanese leads after a lap of 65, Shauffele and Rose at +5. Francesco closes with 69: “Better than yesterday, I played well despite the most difficult conditions with harder wind and greens”
Little Moving Day in Augusta today. A third round started with 52 players in ten strokes: usually those who are higher on the leaderboard try to consolidate the position, the others go on the attack trying a sprint that brings them into contention on Sunday. When the sun rose over the Augusta National there were 13 players in five strokes, people who took home 68 titles on the American circuit alone. Each with his own cards to play in one of the most intriguing challenges in golf. Further back were superstars who know something about Masters, green jackets like Adam Scott, Jose Maria Olazabal, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson. And Francesco Molinari, who last time of the tournament in spring (in 2019) had marched for 49 holes without missing a beat. Then he had lost four too many in a dramatic finale that, for the quality of the game and the immense esteem of the American public, should have seen him triumph.
With those positive and negative memories, with the experience of ten Masters and the newfound confidence, the Turin professional returned to the field in crescendo, one of the few in the rear to make today’s lap meaningful: a 69 to return to par on the total. and gain several positions. This is his comment: “Better than yesterday, I played well despite the most difficult conditions with harder wind and greens. Just an off-line tee-shot, small margins for improvement that make the difference, but I would have liked to pocket more putts because this is the only way to lower the score ”. Three shots under par and a new charge also for the American Phil Mickelson. But in the early afternoon the wind began to pick up along with the incoming storm and the game was suspended with the team leader on hole 7. Rose always in front, with two strokes gained immediately and lost shortly after.
An hour later, at the restart, the applause came from the Amen Corner where Hideki Matsuyama (after nine holes without a bogey) scored two birdies to reach the leader at -7. Then with an extra gear he continued in the lead alone with big irons on the green at holes 15, 16 and 17, eagle, birdie, birdie. In the end a clean score with seven hits earned (65), -11 in total. Just a week ago, Japanese was spoken for the first time in Augusta, with 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani winning the Women’s Amateur. “I would like to follow in his footsteps and make Japan proud of me too,” said Matsuyama, 29, five US tour titles and eight in Japan. He played his first Masters at 19 as an amateur for winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur. Xander Shauffele advances with 68 hits on the score, two earned at 15 with a mileage putt for the eagle. 27 years old and four Masters, he fell behind Tiger Woods in 2019 by a stroke, but warns: “I’ve learned from the mistakes and good things done here, I’m ready to make up for it.” With him, four strokes from the new leader, Justin Rose (less and less precise, takes a step back towards the end, contenting himself with the par), the Australian Mark Leishman (around 70) and Will Zalatoris (first year on the Pga Tour, first Masters is already in the field in the team leader, scores 71 and does not give up his grip). Which instead escaped Jordan Spieth, had to be the opponent for Rose to beat (also word of the supercoach Butch Harmon). And now the grand final of Masters number 85. Francesco Molinari takes the field with Phil Mickelson at 12.50 (in Italy at 18.50).
1. (205) Matsuyama 69-71-65;
T2 (209) Shauffele 72-69-68; Leishman 72-67-70; Rose 65-72-72; Zalatoris 70-68-71 6 (210) Conners 73-69-68 7 (211) Spieth 71-68-72 8 (212) Harman 69-69-74 9 (213) Finau 74-66-73
T10 (214) MacIntyre 74-70-70; Kim 71-69-74; Wiesberger 74-66-74
T21 (216) Molinari 74-73-69
April 11, 2021 (change April 11, 2021 | 09:42)
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Augusta Masters, overtaking Matsuyama in the lead. Molinari comeback: he is 21st