Justin Rose, of England, reacts after missing a putt on the 14th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Sunday, April 09, 2017 1:00 am
Masters leaders stay bunched up
Rose, Garcia up by 1; Fowler, Spieth in hunt
DOUG FERGUSON | Associated Press
Augusta National Golf Club
Par: 72 (36-36)
Justin Rose 71-72-67–210
Sergio Garcia 71-69-70–210
Rickie Fowler 73-67-71–211
Jordan Spieth 75-69-68–212
Ryan Moore 74-69-69–212
Charley Hoffman 65-75-72–212
Stroke average: 3.283
Key fact: Charley Hoffman surrendered the lead he held most of the first three rounds when he dumped his tee shot in the pond, leading to a double bogey. That dropped the 40-year-old American behind four of the biggest names in golf, setting up a Sunday shootout that will have 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler in the next-to-last group, with Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia in the final pairing.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Justin Rose had a back-nine charge so common at Augusta National. Sergio Garcia finally caught a good break in a major. Jordan Spieth got his name high on those famous white leader boards, the only spot he has ever occupied on the weekend at the Masters.
Saturday had something for everyone at the Masters, including the promise of more to come.
“Saturday's gone and now Sunday's coming – a very exciting Sunday,” Garcia said after making a 7-foot par putt on the final hole for a 2-under 70 to share the lead with Rose. “Just make sure we have a good chance coming into the last five or six holes, and see what happens.”
Garcia, the most vexed player without a major in his generation, hung his head when a 4-iron from the first cut of rough on the par-5 13th came out soft and disappeared into the tributary of Rae's Creek in front of the green. Just his luck, the ball bounced softly off the bank and stayed up, and from there the Spaniard hit a tough chip to tap-in range to turn potential bogey into a birdie.
Rose was an afterthought, five shots behind, when his tee shot to a left pin on the par-3 12th dropped in 5 feet from the hole for the first of five birdies on the back nine. He took care of the par 5s and then finished with a 20-foot birdie on the 17th and a 12-footer birdie on the 18th for a Saturday-best 67.
Rose has a share of the 54-hole lead for the first time in a major. He also has a U.S. Open title from Merion and an Olympic gold medal from Rio. And when he surveyed the landscape, he's not sure any of that matters.
There is too much golf left. There are too many capable players. Too much can happen around this place.
“A one-shot lead starting the day doesn't mean much,” Rose said. “You're going to have to go out and play a good round of golf, and I think there's going to be four or five guys pretty much with the same mindset tomorrow.”
Rose and Garcia were at 6-under 210, and that one-shot lead they share was over Rickie Fowler, who has never been this close to the lead in a major going into the final round.
Fowler also has never felt better about his game or his chances. He didn't do anything special except to birdie all the par 5s to offset a few miscues in his round of 71.
“I don't think anyone is going to put themselves far enough out front where they can cruise in,” Fowler said.
Perhaps the most daunting name at Augusta National was Spieth, who trudged off the course Thursday 10 shots out of the lead.
He went 29 straight holes without a bogey until a three-putt from below the ridge on the par-3 16th. By then, he already was squarely back in the mix with a few good bounces and his frightening touch on the greens. He also pulled off a shot from the pine straw on the 13th by telling his caddie, “What would Arnie do?”
It was his way of saying Arnold Palmer would go for it, and his way of letting Michael Greller know that Spieth was feeling it. He drilled a 5-iron into 30 feet and narrowly missed the eagle putt. Two holes later, he nearly holed a wedge from the 15th fairway.
Spieth was tied with Ryan Moore (69) and Charley Hoffman, who led for much of the day until he made double-bogey 5 on the par-3 16th.