AUGUSTA, Ga. — The strong cold and relentless wind. The leader on Saturday afternoon at the Masters. All the elements were there to scottie scheffler to start feeling the pressure of trying to win his first major at Augusta National.
Scheffler never seemed worried until the final hole, and then only briefly.
His 4-shot lead, his high confidence level, Scheffler’s savage drive to the left of the 18th fairway into the trees didn’t bother him nearly as much as the sight of the spotter poking through the leaves in a desperate pursuit of golf. ball.
“We saw the guy with the flag who always finds the balls panicking,” Scheffler said. “I was like, ‘Oh shit. I wonder what’s going on in there?’ Fortunately, they found the ball. And so all he was trying to do was figure out how he was going to get it on the green.”
Like everything else this week, Scheffler found out.
He took a penalty shot, dropped it on the pine straw, then ripped a 3-iron from 240 yards that hit the green and rolled right over his back, leaving him two putts for a bogey that felt much better.
Scheffler scored a one-under-par 71, one of nine under-par scores in the third round, giving him a three-shot lead over cameron smith entering on Sunday.
Scheffler spent the entire day fending off the cold wind by pulling on a vest over his layers of clothing after every shot on every hole. Maybe his next wardrobe change will be a green jacket.
Cameron Smith had the round low with 68, the only player to top 70, and gave himself another chance to win the Masters in his first start since his Players Championship win. He was runner-up in Dustin Johnson in Augusta two years ago.
“It should be a great fight tomorrow,” Scheffler said. “Cam is obviously a great player, he has a fantastic short game and he’s coming off a great win at Players. We’re both in good shape so I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge of playing him tomorrow.” .”
Sunjae Im (71), also runner-up in 2020, was the only other player within 5 shots.
On such a cold day, the wind chill was in the upper 40s for most of the day, perhaps this was a warm-up for what Scheffler can expect Sunday at Augusta National, typically the best theater in the majors, especially for those looking for their first principal.
The last player who failed to maintain a lead of 3 strokes or more before the final round was then 21 years old. Rory McIlroy in 2011.
Scheffler looked like he could turn this into a riot when he made his fourth birdie of the round on the par 5 eighth and extended his lead to 6 shots.
But then a shot from the front bunker on the par 3 12th hole went over the green. He bounced back with a birdie only to fall well short of the monstrous mound protecting the back right pin at 14 for bogey, and three putting the par 5 15 for another bogey.
Even after his best shot of the round, a 4-foot birdie drive on the 17th, he ran into big trouble on the 18th. He pulled his tee shot into a canopy of twisted trees and branches, leaving no choice but to throw a penalty on pine straw.
Bold as ever, he crashed his approach from 240 yards to the green and just behind, giving up two putts to keep the distance.
“You hate bogeying the last hole, but the way I did it, it sure felt like par,” Scheffler said. “Definitely a good end to the day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Scheffler was at 9-under 207.
Scheffler and Smith could also be the two best golfers.
Scheffler has won three of his last five tournaments, all against some of the year’s strongest fields, a streak that has elevated the 25-year-old from Dallas to World No. 1.
Smith started the year by taking down former No. 1 player, Jon Rahm, with a scoring record to match in Kapalua. His latest feat was winning the next best thing after a major, the Players Championship, last month.
“It just means I can pull it off, I guess, when I’m up against the best in the world,” Smith said. “It’s a good feeling to have. He earns it. They don’t give it to him. So I’m going to have to go out there tomorrow and play really good golf again, probably similar to today. Hopefully it’ll all fall into place.”
tiger forest it ended when Scheffler was still comfortably ahead, and the five-time Masters champion said he feels he has seen this before. Players hit their best form all the time, and it’s especially nice when that streak is in the spring with the Masters on the schedule.
Woods won back-to-back before his Masters victory in 2001. jordan spieth he won and had a couple of runner-up finishes when he got his green jacket in 2015. couples he won twice and was runner-up twice before his 1992 win at Augusta.
“We all wish we had that two- or three-month window when we get hot and hopefully the major races fall somewhere in that window,” Woods said. “We take care of that in those windows.” Scottie seems to be in that window right now.”
charl schwartzelwho won the Masters in 2011, was trying to keep up with Smith until he tripled from about 8 feet for bogey on the 16th and dropped another shot on the 17th, dropping to 73. He was at 214, two under, along with with Shane Lowry (73).
Associated Press contributed to this story.