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Hideki Matsuyama plays final four holes in four-under on his way to a stunning 65. Justin Rose leans on his short game to stay in the hunt
First it was the weather, then it was Hideki Matsuyama. Justin Rose saw these forces of nature stack up in front of his Masters dream here on Saturday night as he finally lost his lead.
Matsuyama’s 65 was a remarkable score that hurtled the Japanese to 11-under, four clear of Rose, who shares second with two Americans in Xander Scauffele and Will Zalatoris and the Australian Marc Leishman.
Whilst Matsuyama was able to capitalise resoundingly on the rain-softened conditions - playing his seven holes after the delay in six-under - Rose, with a level-par simply tried to hang on to the flying coat tails of the 29-year-old.
And strictly on this evidence that coat is likely to be green come this evening.
Matsuyama’s talent is undoubted. It helped him rise to world No 2 in 2017 and two victories in the World Golf Championship events saw him installed as a major champion in waiting. Curiously that has yet to happen, despite him having top-sixes in all four majors. The five-time PGA Tour champion is without a win in America in more than three years and has fallen back to 25th in the rankings.
This has been a stunning resurgence. An incredible up and down on the 18th meant that he recorded the first bogey-free round of the week. It is difficult to quantify what a Matsuyama win would do for his country. Japan has been desperate for a male major for decades.
His heroics lit up a disjointed day. Just as play was heating up, so the storms arrived on cue to force a 78-minute intervention. As if there was not enough to distract Rose, then here was another challenge to negotiate.
Rose had earlier birdied the first two holes to extend his overnight one-shot advantage but was soon drawn back to the field with bogeys on the fourth and fifth. When the action restarted he was joined by Matsuyama on seven-under when he burst out of the reopened traps in resounding style with birdies on the 11th and 12th.
Matsuyama had thrown down the gauntlet and proceeded to slap his rivals around the face with it on the 15th. He hit his approach to four feet and converted the eagle. For the first time since the 10th on Thursday, Rose was suddenly not in the lead. The 40-year-old bravely either held the advantage or shared the advantage for 37 holes.
Matsuyama birdied the 16th and 17th to pull away. He poured in the birdies following the rain. “After the break, I hit every shot where I wanted to,” Matsuyama said. “I just sat in my car during the break, looking at my mobile. This will be a new experience for me, taking the lead into the final round of the major.”
Schauffele will once again partner Matsuyama on Sunday, after his own 68, containing a 60-footer for eagle on the 15th. “You want to play with someone who's going to shoot seven-under,” Schauffele, who came second in 2019, said. “ You hope that it's yourself, and if not you chase. You'd rather play with someone that's shooting 65 than shooting 74. Hideki's an incredible iron player. This is a great course for him.”
There are only five players within six shots of Matsuyama, with Canada’s Correy Conners on six-under following a 68 that contained a hole-in-one of the sixth. Jordan Spieth, the 2015 champion, is next on five-under after an indifferent 72. He still believes he has a chance, despite the famous Masters stat that every one of the last 24 winners were in the top four at the start of the final round.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre is in a tie for 10th on two-under. The 24-year-old from Oban is enjoying an outrageous debut. The left-hander’s 70, featuring six birdies, highlighted his immense promise.
“I'm not here just to make up the numbers,” MacIntyre said. “I’m here because I got here on merit, and I'm here to win a golf tournament.
“If I wasn't trying to win, I'd be sitting at home with my feet up watching it. I've prepared for the last two years or the last year, my goal was world top 50 in order to get in this major. I'm here now, and I'm trying to win it.”
Matsuyama is in a commanding position
He has won big events before so you would not expect him to wilt. They only weakness in his game traditionally is the putting but that looked in good order today. Will take a special round to chase him down.
What a putt from Rose to save his par! That's all for today
That was seriously gutsy. I have rarely seen Rose play so poorly from tee to green but he has stayed in the hunt at seven-under. His playing partner Zalatoris finished on the same score.
Could have been worse for Rose
He managed to avoid any tree limbs but the approach lies long and left of the green. Rose is left relying on his short game again, but this chip is not his best. Will be almost 20 feet for par.
More trouble for Rose on the 18th
He is really struggling with his swing now, perhaps a little fatigued. His drive starts down the right and peels even further right into the trees.
Rose holes his putt for par
He is hanging on in there at seven-under and walks to the 18th tee.
Well it worked!
Rose's long game looking quite ragged now
He went left off the tee at the 17th and came up short of the green with his second up and over some branches. His chip is short of pace and it will be another lengthy par putt.
Rose drops a shot
Another excellent bunker shot but the putt stays left. Matsuyama's lead is now four.
Birdie for Zalatoris at 15
He is back to seven-under. Rose has found the front right bunker on the 16th.
Rose saves his par
Keeps him within three shots of the leader Matsuyama.
Rose played the pitch wonderfully
Will have around eight feet to save par. That was about as good as you can do from that position.
Rose in trouble on 15
A wayward tee shot forced him to lay up on the par five, and his wedged third airmailed the green. Very difficult up and down for par facing him now.
Spieth three putts from long range at the par three 16th
He drops back to five-under.
Rose saved his par at the 14th and produced a celebration to match
Matsuyama is the Masters leader
He is three shots clear of Rose and will sign for a seven-under round.
Magic from Matsuyama
That was so much harder than he made it look. "You could put 20 balls down and not get one closer than that," says Butch Harmon.
Played it off his back foot, bumped it forward through the fringe and it trickles onto the putting surface and fed downhill to within 18 inches of the hole. It will be a stunning round of 65.
Matsuyama in a spot of bother at the last
He was not too close to lip of the bunker so could take on the green with his second.
The contact was clean, too clean if anything because his ball soared over the back of the green. With a back right pin, that leaves a fiendish pitch.
Birdie for Spieth at the 15th
The tap-in four moves him to six-under.
Error from Rose on the 14th
Goes long and left, leaving him no room to work with because the pin is in the back section of the green. Rose looks to the heavens, he knows you cannot leave yourself there.
He makes a good job of the chip shot though, but will have six feet or so to save his par.
Bunker for Matsuyama on the 18th
He finds Sandy Lyle's fairway bunker and it looked to run close to the lip. Has his work cut out to preserve this statistic:
Another Matsuyama birdie!
He is leaving the field in his wake and is three clear. I did not anticipate a player reaching 11 under today.
Back at the 15th, Spieth has just about cleared the water to reach the green in two.
What a break from Schauffele!
His pitch was going to race about 15 or 20 feet past but it struck the flagstick and dropped six inches from the hole. He will save his par.
Bogey for Zalatoris at the par five 13th
That's a nasty six and three putt. Falls back to six-under.
Connors is done for his round
In the clubhouse at six-under, after a round of 68 that includes a hole-in-one at the sixth.
Mistake from Schauffele
Short sides himself by going long and left on the 17th. Will be a tough up and down from their,
Back in the middle of the fairway, from 140 yards, Matsuyama fires another shot to within birdie range. This has been a clinic or iron play.
Matsuyama's birdie at the 16th
Another Matsuyama birdie!
He becomes the first player to reach double figures under par! Two clear of the rest.
Very good par save from Schauffele
Left himself a good 10 feet or so for par on the 16th when putting from the lower level but holed out. Leishman birdies the 13th to move to six-under.
The lead changed hands three times in 30 seconds around those eagles
Brilliant stuff, what the Masters is all about.
Another magnificent Matsuyama iron shot on 16
It is a tough flag front right, but the tournament leader feeds in a little fade to within 10 feet.
Justin Thomas has fallen to pieces
His second at the 14th from pine straw ends up about 35 yards beyond the green.
We have a new leader. Matsuyama reaches nine-under. Back at the 12th, Rose rolled in a mid-range birdie putt to reach eight-under. Spieth only pars the par five 13th.
His approach was overshadowed by Matsuyama's but Schauffele drains a putt for a three at the par five 15th! He reaches seven-under.
Birdie at the 17th for Connors
He moves to six-under. He has been the day's big mover.
Matsuyama is taking charge of this now
Another stunning iron shot, this time from the top of the hill at the par five 15th. Landed softly and will have six or seven feet for eagle to reach nine-under.
Triple bogey 8 for Thomas at 13!
That might be his race run. Found water with his second, and then three-putted after an average fourth shot. Needs a serious run of scoring now.
Magnificent bunker shot fro Rose
Splashed out to within a few feet when he had no room to work with. Precious par.
Rose in trouble at the 11th
Was fortunate to find an avenue through the pines after pushing his tee shot right but he fans his second out to the right. Short sided and in the bunker.
Big error from Thomas at the 13th!
Worked his way out of the trees to an ideal lob wedge distance but completely chunked his third and found Rae's Creek.
Good up and down from Spieth on 12
He stays at five-under. The same score as Corey Connors who has birdied the 15th. Matsuyama looks like escaping from the 14th with a par after a wayward tee shot.
He rolls one in from 25 feet or so on the tough 10th. The young man is now a co-leader of the Masters.
Schauffele has also stuffed his approach on the 14th and has a good chance to reach six-under.
Poor tee shot on the 12th from Spieth
This hole does not have the same teeth with no wind but that's a poor pull from Spieth. It's on dry land but left of the green on the pathway.
Loose from Thomas at the 13th
Was trying to sling one around the corner but it went straight and run into the trees. Rose and Zalatoris have both found the 10th green in regulation.
Thomas makes his birdie at 12
That was a good bounce back. Moves to four-under with two par fives to come. Leishman managed to escape with par at the 10th.
Spieth on the 11th
Rock solid from tee to green on one of the hardest holes on the course. Will have 30 feet or so for birdie.
Matsuyama misses for birdie!
A good chance goes a begging there. Schauffele makes his birdie though to move to five-under. Harman and Leishman both look like dropping shots at the 10th.
Matsuyama leaves his eagle putt at the 13th well short
A good eight feet or so left for birdie. Good response from Thomas at the 12th, he will have a 12 foot birdie putt on the 12th.
Rose makes par at the ninth
As does playing partner Will Zalatoris.
Thomas' putter has gone cold
It was a difficult two-putt on the 11th but another short one slips past. Back to three-under now.
Another good shot from Matsuyama
Will have 40 feet for eagle after two solid shots on the par five 13th.
Spieth's moment of brilliance
SPIETH CHIP IN!
From short and left on the 10th, Spieth hits a low skipper from below the level of the green that checks up and drops in the hole for birdie. The 2015 Masters champion moves to five-under.
Schauffele is creeping up on the rails
Playing solid golf at four-under and is the middle of the par five 13th fairway.
Back at 11, Thomas is in a tricky spot on the right, but punches it below some branches and gets it on the front section of the green.
Chance goes for Rose
Just like Connors on the 13th, Rose finds a par five in two but takes three to get down from 45 feet or so. He stays tied with Matsuyama on seven-under.
Matsuyama now co-leader!
Rose has company - for the time being - after Matsuyama rolls in a birdie putt on the 12th. Hideki enjoys playing softened golf courses.
Corey Connors has three-putted for pat at the 13th
He did all the hard work and will be kicking himself. Stays at five-under.
Brilliant shot from Zalatoris
Skirted past the bunker on eight, but took full advantage of his lucky break with a raking long iron that sets up an eagle putt from 20 feet. Spieth makes par on the ninth to turn at four-under.
At the 10th, Thomas pushes a close-range birdie putt to stay at the same score.
Matsuyama's birdie on 11
Good shot from Rose on the eighth
Finds the putting surface in two with a fine fairway wood shot. Will be a long-range eagle try.
At the stunning par-three 12th. Matsuyama fires another iron shot to within birdie range. He is striping it just now. The wind has died down and Augusta is yielding again.
Birdies for Matsuyama and Leishman
They move to six-under and are tied for second, one stroke behind Rose.
Two cracking shots down the ninth from Spieth
He will have 15 feet for birdie from the right level. Rose finds the fairway on the par-five eighth.
Thomas drops a shot at the ninth
He had to walk back out to a six or seven foot par putt and it stayed left on him. Four-under now.
Zalatoris has dropped a shot at the seventh and falls back to five-under.
At the 11th, Matsuyama has hit a sensational iron shot from the top of the hill, drilled low to stay under some overhanging branches. Will have 15 feet or so for birdie. Rose pars the seventh.
Play about to get under way
That could have been far worse. The players will hope conditions are more receptive because things were getting dicey before the horn blew.
10.15 resumption - good news
Quite the stat
The news made official
Spieth's outrageous escape
The story so far
Play suspended due to lightning in the area. Hopefully the storm skirts past the course quickly.
Spieth has just his a ridiculous shot from the bushes at the eigth
I've never seen anyone that far left, but he punched the ball forward off the pine straw, between two trees, and the ball feed in off the slopes to within 10 feet.
Connors is still going strong at five-under and is in the middle of the fairway on the par five 13th.
Leishman drops a shot at the seventh
He falls back to five-under. The wind is whipping those famous yellow flags and things are getting really tough out there. The good news is that Rose is on the cut and prepared back in the fairway on the same hole.
Two-putt pars for Rose and Zalatoris
Par threes for the pair of them. As you were.
Thomas misses a presentable birdie putt at the par five eighth.
DOUBLE BOGEY for Spieth at the seventh
Faced a nay-on impossible pitch from over the back of the green, back downhill. Plopped it into the bunker in front of him then flew the shot from sand beyond the front pin. The putt for a bogey came up short. He falls back to three-under.
Another bogey for Rose
The lead is back to one, after the bunker shot ran out to some 15 feet. The putt for par slides by and the lead is just one. Spieth has also airmailed the seventh green so is in a bit of trouble.
Rose facing another bunker shot to save par
This fifth hole is fiendish. Rose hit a good tee shot yet still have more than 250 yards remaining. He tried to knock down a fairway wood but flew it too far and it skipped into the back left bunker.
The final pairing drops shots on the fourth
Rose back to eight under and Zalatoris back to six. They have the daunting fifth next so the rest of the field will fancy they might get another back soon.
Matsuyama misses a short-range birdie try at the eighth.
Rose'bunker shot rolls well past
Will be a par putt from almost 15 feet from the fringe. Good birdie chance coming up for Spieth at the sixth after he used the slopes to perfection like the Augusta specialist he is.
Wonderful two putt from Thomas at the sixth
That was like putting down a marble staircase from the top level but he judged it beautifully. Likewise, Spieth saves his par from long range on the fifth.
Sand for Rose at the fourth
Was not a long way off but he knew it was always leaking right at the par three. Testing bunker shot coming up now but he is good from sand.
Zalatoris birdies the third
His first birdie of the day to move solo second on seven-under.
Bogey for Thomas at the fifth
Does not get up and down after missing the green right. The fifth must be playing more like a par five today. Rose pars the three to consolidate the lead , but has some tough holes coming up.
Birdie at seven for Matsuyama
He joins the stack of players at five-under. And hold the back page: Si Woo Kim has holed a birdie putt on the sixth. Brilliant ball-striker but he struggles on the greens typically.
Spieth finds sand at the fourth and drops a shot
Fails to get up and down from the bunker and falls back to five-under. Thomas made his par on that tough par three to stay at six-under.
Rose's birdie at the first
BIRDIE for Rose
Such an assured start from the 2013 US Open champion. He is now three clear of the field with another good birdie chance coming up at the short par four third.
Great pitch from Rose
He will have about six feet, uphill, to extend his advantage with a birdie. Just a par for Zalatoris at the par five second.
Spieth misses a short-range birdie putt at the third
Grazed the left edge from about five feet. He stays at six-under.
Rose in good position at the par five second
Will have a pitch up the green and the chance to set up a birdie putt. A four would see him reach nine-under.
Thomas making a move
He rolls in from 10 feet on the short par four third to join Spieth and the rest at six-under. Connors has made another birdie at the seventh to reach the same score thanks to a putt from fully 45 feet.
BIRDIE for Rose at the first
The ball topples in dead weight with it's final roll, but that's the ideal start. Rose is now eight-under and two clear of the rest.
Birdie four at the second for Spieth
He moves ominously to six-under and tied with Zalatoris in second.
Lovely approach from Rose at the first
Pin high, around 15 feet from the hole. Good birdie chance coming up for the perfect start.
Birdie two for Schauffele at the fourth
There are not many of those. He joins the big group of players stacked up at five-under.
Good drive for Rose at the first
Three-wood that just skirts past the bunker but is in good position now.
Early birdie for Thomas
Leaves himself the best possible angle to pitch to the back left pin at the second and he converts the birdie. Moves him to five-under.
Connors' ace (no, you've not time travelled back to Wimbledon 1982)
Hole in one alert!
The pin position on the sixth lends itself to an ace and Corey Connors has just made one! The second this week after Tommy Fleetwood at the 16th. More importantly perhaps, it jumps him to five-under and just two behind Rose. It is the sixth hole in one on the sixth in Masters history.
Xander Schauffele reaches four-under
A good birdie at the second. Morikawa and Smith have dropped shots with bogeys at the fifth and fourth respectively. They are now one and two-under. Still in it.
Jordan Spieth has made a par at the first.
Great round from Mickelson
He signs for a third round of 69. That's the lowest score of the day as things stand.
"A really difficult day for golf"
That's Paul McGinley's assessment of conditions at Augusta.
Justin Rose warming up with a beach ball wedged between his arms
Rose really is a fastidious range rat. He begins his third round in about 10 minutes.
Not been a good day from DeChambeau
Three over for the day, including a double-bogey at the fourth. He is two-over for the tournament and surely out of it. The wind is definitely gusting more than the first two days.
The fifth is playing brutally difficult
Morikawa has just found the fairway with driver and still has 254 yards remaining on the par four. Must be playing into the breeze. Cameron Smith has birdied the third to reach three-under. Solid par from Justin Thomas at the first.
Double bogey for Fleetwood at the seventh
Three putts from nowhere. He tumbles back to one-over and into the back after such a promising start.
Henrik Stenson has been in rotten form...
But is tip-toeing around Augusta and getting back to something like his best. Stenson is now two-under for the tournament and just five behind.
Lucky break for Thomas at the first as his drive collides with a tree and kicks back into the fairway.
Fleetwood in some trouble at the seventh
Found the right trees off the tee and his second has come up well shy of the greenside bunkers.
Another player birdies holes two and three
It's Canadian Corey Connors - he reaches four-under. Justin Thomas is about to tee off on the first.
Australian Matt Jones has birdied two of his first three holes
He is now three-under for the tournament.
Morikawa has bounced back with a birdie at the second
He is back to two-under for the championship after finding the green in two at the par five.
Not much happening for Rahm or Watson
Looks like the scoring is a tad higher than yesterday. Jon Rahm and Bubba Watson both over par for the day and one-over for the tournament.
Brilliant recovery from Smith
He floated his second shot - from the wrong fairway - to within 20 feet. Two putted for his par. Up at the fifth, Fleetwood has three-putted from long range to fall back to one-under.
Channelling his inner Jean Van De Velde
The remaining tee times
18:30 H Matsuyama (Jpn), X Schauffele (US)
18:40 SW Kim (Kor), C Champ (US)
18:50 T Finau (US), J Thomas (US)
19:00 J Spieth (US) B Wiesberger (Aut)
19:10 B Harman (US), M Leishman (Aus)
19:20 J Rose (Eng), W Zalatoris (US)
Wayward start from Smith
He pulls his tee shot at the first way left and it runs through the pines into the ninth fairway. He might actually have a shot from there.
Cameron Smith and Ryan Palmer now on the first tee
Smith became the first player in Masters history to shoot four rounds in the 60s last November and is going well again at two-under. He is a short game magician. Morikawa bogeyed the first and he is back to one-under.
Good up and down from sand on the fourth from Fleetwood
Missed the green left on the long par three but splashed out the bunker delightfully. Mickelson's good round is still going strong - he is three-under for the day thru 14 holes.
Morikawa and Connors about to tee off
The players at two-under will be targeting a 68 or 67 today.
Fast start from Fleetwood
He birdies the par five second and then sinks a sliding, downhill left-to-right putt on the par four third to move to two-under for the tournament. Now just five shots behind fellow Englishman Rose but some tough holes to come.
The job of a caddie
Laird off to a good start
Scotland's Martin Laird made the ideal start to his third round as he looked to move into contention.
Laird birdied the first two holes move into red figures on one under par.
Some of the players starting now and during the next hour
17:20 S Lowry (Ire), T Fleetwood (Eng)
17:30 M Hughes (Can), R MacIntyre (Sco)
17:40 S Cink (US), V Hovland (Nor)
18:00 B DeChambeau (US), M Jones (Aus)
18:10 C Morikawa (US), C Conners (Can)
18:20 R Palmer (US), C Smith (Aus)
18:30 H Matsuyama (Jpn), X Schauffele (US)
Birdies for Rahm and Simpson
They move into red for the tournament. Simpson birdied the par five eighth and Rahm picked one up at the short par four third after a delicious pitch.
Jon Rahm is under way in his third round
The new father has parred the first, always an acceptable score on a stiff par four, and remains seven behind Rose.
Webb Simpson back to level par
Fired his tee shot to within a couple of feet on the par three six and knocked in the birdie putt. The pin in on a flat spot front left and players can use the slope in the middle of the green to feed it in. Two-under for the day.
Patrick Reed has birdied the third
The 2018 champion moves back to level par. He is exactly the type of nuggety competitor who hangs around when conditions are tough.
Players back to level par
Jim Herman and Joaquín Niemann have made early moves to get out of black figures.
More birdies out there on the early holes
Matt Wallace, Webb Simpson and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are all in the red figures for the day and back to one-over for the championship.
Mickelson's birdie at the third
Mickelson's birdie at the first
Mickelson birdies the third
He moves back to one-over. Matt Wallace, well-fancied at the start of the week, has just started his first round.
Good start too from Sebastian Munoz
He is back at one-over after birdieing two of his first three holes. The second and third at Augusta do offer birdie chances. The stretch from the fourth thru the 12th is the most difficult.
It's a view
Early birdies for Poulter and Mickelson
They get back to two-over for the tournament, which is nine shots off the lead.
A wide open Masters Saturday before us
The players have been full of praise for the course set-up this week, and the varied styles of those at the top of the leaderboard should mean we are in for a cracking Masters weekend.
Leader Justin Rose showed great resilience and patience to recover from four early bogeys and end Friday at seven-under par. He knew that Augusta's par fives on the back nine yield birdies and waited for his chance. Rose has a superb record at the Masters, going close when Sergio Garcia won in 2017, but has very little recent form behind him and has struggled with back issues. Rose is yet to win the Green Jacket but is a major champion, winning the 2013 US Open at Merion.
“I think it was just a classic day at Augusta National when you’re just slightly off,” Rose explained. “You can be a foot or two out on certain occasions and you end up struggling. I think maybe off the back of yesterday, it starts to feel pretty different pretty quickly."
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are lurking with intent on five and four-under respectively and are still the favourites with the bookmakers. Thomas very nearly went round bogey free on Friday until a loss of concentration saw he three-putt the last. Spieth looks back to something close to his best and is an Augusta specialist. In the final group with Rose is young American Will Zalatoris, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise from the mini-Tours and is one off the lead at the weekend on his Masters debut. Short-hitter Brian Harman is also one shot behind Rose, and will need the course to stay firm over the weekend. A host of dangerous players start Saturday within five shots of the lead: Marc Leishman, Tony Finau, Bernd Wiesberger, Cameron Champ, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith and Collin Morikawa.
Things could change if rain arrives later today as forecast.
The action begins at 2.40pm with good friends Ian Poulter and Paul Casey out together in the first group.