Japan's Hideki Matsuyama stormed home in style to put himself in position to become the first Asian golfer to win the Masters as he held a four-shot lead after the rain-interrupted third round at Augusta National on Saturday.
Matsuyama, who began the day three shots behind overnight leader Justin Rose, played eight holes after a 78-minute weather delay and went a sizzling six under over that stretch for a seven-under-par 65 that brought him to 11 under.
“Before the horn blew I didn't hit a very good drive, but after the horn blew for the restart I hit practically every shot exactly how I wanted to,” Matsuyama, whose last PGA Tour win came in 2017, said through an interpreter. “This will be a new experience for me being a leader going into the final round in a major. I guess all I can do is just relax tonight, prepare well and just do my best tomorrow.”
Rose (72), seeking his first Green Jacket after a pair of close calls, was in a four-way share of second place with Xander Schauffele (68), Australian Marc Leishman (70) and Masters debutant Will Zalatoris (71).
World No. 25 Matsuyama stormed through Amen Corner with a pair of birdies and then started to pull away from the field with an eagle at the par-five 15th to grab the outright lead following a magnificent approach. Matsuyama then birdied the next two holes before capping the first bogey-free round of the week with a par to set a target nobody could catch as he became the first player from Japan to lead after any round of the Masters.
It also marked Matsuyama's best round in his 10 Masters appearances by one shot.
Rose, seeking his first Masters victory after a pair of runner-up finishes, had been in control all week and led by two shots moments after play resumed but was out of sync and unable to take advantage of rain-softened conditions. The 40-year-old Englishman made a birdie-birdie start to build an early three-shot lead but then made consecutive bogeys from the par-three fourth before the inclement weather moved in while he was playing the seventh hole.
After the stoppage, Rose returned and mixed one birdie with a bogey at the par-three 16th where his tee shot found the front bunker.
Former champion Jordan Spieth (72), who came into the week among the favourites after snapping a nearly four-year victory drought, was six shots back after a round that included four birdies, two bogeys and an double-bogey. Schauffele, who drained a 61-foot eagle putt at the par-five 15th that gave him a brief share of the lead until playing competitor Matsuyama made his eagle, will be in the final group for Sunday's final round.
“My dinner will taste a little better,” Schauffele said after making some key putts down the stretch and an up-and-down for par at the penultimate hole. “It wasn't quite as nice as Hideki's cleanup there on the last few holes, but I'll take it.”
- IND-W vs ENG-W, 1st T20I Preview: India Women hit reset button under new coach Muzumdar as World Cup beckons
- Sports bodies ask IOC to allow Russians as neutral athletes for 2024 Paris Olympics
- Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen to undergo surgery for lower back issue
- Javier Tebas to remain La Liga president until 2027
- Karun Nair hopes for national comeback after career reset with Vidarbha