While Matsuyama was bothering the flagstick with his tee shot on 16, Schauffele sent a very average iron into the green. Then he left his long birdie putt ten feet short. But he’s in no mood to take a step backwards after his eagle, and rolls in a staunch par saver. Then Matsuyama rolls in his short birdie putt, and he becomes the first player to make it into double figures this week. What a run he’s gone on since the restart: birdie, birdie, par, par, eagle, birdie!
-10: Matsuyama (16)
-8: Rose (12)
-7: Schauffele (16), Zalatoris (12)
That 75-minute weather delay was so irritating at the time. But god bless the rain that came down, making this course more receptive, and the players a damn sight more aggressive! Worth the wait, huh?
Matsuyama is on fire. A gentle fade into the par-three 16th, and he’ll have a look at birdie from four feet! That’s a delicious shot, and a very satisfying divot flew through the air as well. The lead was -7 just a few minutes ago. Now Matsuyama is four feet away from -10. The unique beauty of the Masters, right here, right now.
What a putt on 15 by Xander Schauffele! He sends a tramliner straight into the cup from 60 feet, and it’s an eagle that gives him a share of the lead … for about six seconds, because back on 12, Justin Rose snatches it back with a 30-footer for birdie … but he’s only leading for about 5.9 seconds, as on 15, Schauffele’s playing partner Hideki Matsuyama, having creamed his second from 200 yards to six feet, tidies up for eagle of his own, to leapfrog the pair of them! What a whirlwind of action! What a Masters this is turning into!
-9: Matsuyama (15)
-8: Rose (8)
-7: Schauffele (15), Zalatoris (12)
-6: Conners (17)
-5: Spieth (13), Leishman (12)
Bob MacIntyre signs for a 70. At -2 overall, the young man from Oban is the new 54-hole clubhouse leader on Masters debut. Meanwhile another birdie for Corey Connors on 17, his second in three holes, and this is a great reaction to his stutter after the turn. He’s -6 again.
Thomas can’t make his double-bogey putt on 13, and that’s a triple-bogey eight. Out of absolutely nothing! Two wedges in, both leading to unforced errors, one short, one long. He lost his mental equilibrium and those five minutes may have cost him everything this week. He crashes down to -1.
Rose flays his drive at 11 into the trees down the right. He’s got a route towards the green – remember Tiger, twice, here in 2019 – but sends his second into the bunker to the right of the green. He’s faced with a long downhill bunker shot, shortsided, with water behind. God speed, Justin. So what happens next is quite astonishing: a sand shot flopped high and landed like a feather, rolling to five feet. That’s as good as it gets. What a par save! You’ll not see a better shot, with such high difficulty and danger tariffs, all week!
Thomas hits an awful wedge into 13, the ball dribbling into Rae’s Creek before swimming away from sight, towards the horizon like a little fishy, as the brook babbles downhill. A moment of dark comedy, though JT doesn’t find it funny, and his mood isn’t improved with a heavy handed chip from the drop zone. This is looking like a double bogey at best. Maybe worse, because he leaves his bogey putt 15 feet short! That is an astonishing miss. Thomas’s race could be coming to a premature end here. Meanwhile back-to-back bogeys for Harman, at 10 and 11, and he slips to -3.
Spieth has plenty of history at 12 – that quadruple bogey that cost him a second green jacket in 2016 – and for a minute it looks like there’ll be more scar tissue. He lands his tee shot back left of the green, the ball taking a sharp bounce further left and towards the bank of azaleas. That’s awful luck, though he gets an instant break back when his ball eventually nestles on the cart path. He gets a drop, then grinds out a superb up and down to remain at -5. That could be as valuable as a birdie when it all comes down tomorrow evening.
Yep, Zalatoris looks the more likely! He finds the difficult 10th in two, then steers in a 30-footer for a birdie that gives the debutant a share of the lead! What a player this young man from San Francisco is, but then we knew that already after his ace and tie for sixth at Winged Foot in last year’s US Open. Bounceback birdie meanwhile for Conners at 15, and he’s still right in the thick of it.
-7: Matsuyama (13), Rose (10), Zalatoris (10)
-5: Conners (15), Schauffele (13), Spieth (11), Leishman (10)
Another birdie for the debutant from Oban, Bob MacIntyre! The 24-year-old Scot sends his second at 17 over the flag and makes the 12-footer coming back. He’s -2, suddenly just five off the lead, and if he could just find something on the final hole, you never know tomorrow. The first debutant to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979? If that’s to happen, Will Zalatoris looks the more likely, but … well … y’know.
Matsuyama tickles his birdie effort towards the cup at 13, but it’s always staying up on the left. Just a par. His partner Xander Schauffele is much bolder with his eagle putt, and though it doesn’t drop, he taps in for a birdie that moves him up to -5. Leishman can’t get up and down from Spieth Country on 10, never mind chip in, and that’s a dropped shot. And a bounceback birdie for JT, who finally makes a putt on 12, moving back up to -4.
-7: Matsuyama (13), Rose (9)
-6: Zalatoris (9)
-5: Schauffele (13), Spieth (10), Leishman (10)
Matsuyama whistles his second at 13 into the meat of the green. He’s got a long downhill eagle putt … but makes exactly the same mistake as Conners before him, failing to factor in the rain that’s slowed the green. That’s well short and now he faces a testing birdie putt. Meanwhile pars for Rose and Zalatoris on 9, the pair turning with level-par 36s.
Justin Thomas’s putter has gone stone cold. Having found 11 in regulation, he leaves his first putt short, and for the third hole in a row missed a makeable one. Bogey, and he slips to -3, and into a funk.
By the way, do you remember Bryson DeChambeau sending his ball “so far into Narnia” at 13? Well, he found a route out of the trees to the green, then calmly took two putts for a birdie. Of course he did. Then he birdied 14 too. Of course he did. Bryson’s brilliantly entertaining as well; he’s +1, and hanging onto hope by his fingertips.
Jordan Spieth is a magician! Having left his second to 10 short and left, he chips up from 22 yards, the ball always destined to disappear cleanly into the hole after a couple of gentle bounces. He’s back to where he began the day, at -5, and that ludicrous up and down from the nonsense at 8 begins to look pivotal. He’s such a fun player to watch. Meanwhile birdie for Brian Harman at 9, and he rises to -5 as well.
It’s suddenly all going wrong for Conners. Having just three-putted the par five 13th, he sends his drive to the base of a loblolly down the left. He’s forced to turn his iron around and chip sideways, left-handed, back onto the fairway … but mishits it onto the trunk, and is extremely fortunate that his ball doesn’t spring back and hit him, and that it squirts out towards the fairway, albeit still in the second cut. He calms himself to send his third to the back of the green, where he’ll really need to limit the damage to bogey. Two putts a must.
For Conners on 13, read Rose at 8: eagle dreams dashed by a three-putt par on a par-five. Rose left that first putt well short, just as Conners had done, the rain that continues to fall doing a number on the Englishman. Zalatoris takes two putts for a bounceback birdie, and for the first time in a long while, Rose no longer has sole ownership of the lead.
-7: Matsuyama (12), Rose (8)
-6: Leishman (8), Zalatoris (8)
-5: Conners (13)
Corey Conners finds the par-five 13th in two. Sadly he doesn’t take into consideration the newly moistened greens, and severely underhits his eagle putt. He’s left with an eight footer for birdie, and that one slips by the right of the cup. A miserable par, and though he’s still just a couple off the lead at -5, there would have been dreams of joining Rose in the lead … and that’s something Matsuyama does by stroking in his birdie effort on 12 with extreme confidence.
Jordan Spieth can’t quite make his birdie putt on 9, the ball dying left on its final turn. A par, and he turns in 37 at -4. Disappointment for his good mate Justin Thomas at 10, as he lets his great birdie chance slip by. His flat stick a bit cold since the restart. He remains at -4 too.
Two big crashes down the middle of the par-five 8th, and Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris are on in two, looking at eagle putts. Up on 12, Hideki Matsuyama clips his tee shot to 12 feet. And back on 10, JT screeches his second from 150 yards to five feet. Those two irons demonstrating how the conditions have changed, allowing the players to be more aggressive.
Spieth, having made that preposterous birdie at 8, getting up and down from the jungle down the left, sets up another chance. He sends his second at 9 onto the top tier of the green, and he’ll have a good look at birdie from 15 feet. Meanwhile up on 11, Matsuyama converts his birdie putt, while Leishman gets up and down from the front of 8 to pick up a shot. Suddenly it’s all change at the top! Again!
-7: Rose (7)
-6: Matsuyama (11), Leishman (8)
-5: Conners (12), Zalatoris (7)
Two putts for Rose on 7 and he makes his par. Sadly for Zalatoris, the difficult bunker shot he faced in starting again landed short and span back, and he wasn’t able to make the par saver. His sole ownership of second turns into a share.
-7: Rose (7)
-5: Conners (12), Matsuyama (10), Leishman (7), Zalatoris (7)
-4: Schauffele (10), Thomas (9), Spieth (8), Wiesberger (8), Harman (7)
Not such a cold start for Matsuyama, though! Under hanging branches down the right of 11, he fires low and hard into the heart of the green. His ball holds, an early sign that the course will indeed be a little more receptive … and that we could see a few birdies again. They were at a premium when the wind was up before the weather warning.
Before anything happens there, Justin Thomas is forced to restart with a tricky left-to-right slider up 9 for par. He can’t make it, and having started with a couple of early birdies, he’s given both shots back in short order. He’s -4.
The klaxon sounds, and we’re off again! The final group are at the 7th green. More accurately, Will Zalatoris is in a bunker to the right, while Justin Rose is in the heart of the putting surface. Let’s go!
The players are making their way back into position. It’s still raining at Augusta, but everyone’s been told that there’s no more worry of electrical activity, so we’re just battling the clock. Sunset in Georgia will be just before 8pm local time, 1pm BST. Given we’ve lost 75 minutes of play, finishing the third round tonight will be a very tight squeeze. Here’s hoping, for a multitude of reasons, though I’m not sure they’ll do it.
Great news! Play is scheduled to resume at 5.15pm local time, 10.15pm BST. The players are streaming back to the practice area to warm up. So while they’ll be cutting it fine to finish the third round tonight, there’s at least half a chance. The players would certainly prefer not to leave anything hanging until tomorrow morning, so they may pick up the pace a little, especially as the course has taken on a little moisture and will be slightly more responsive than before.
The minute there’s any word of a restart, we’ll post the news up here. So keep hitting that refresh button. You get the breaking news as it happens, we get the cheap hits. Everybody happy! Meanwhile, some intermission music for y’all.
The talk is of a delay lasting 45 minutes to an hour. If that turns out to be correct, we might be OK to finish the third round tonight … though we’d be cutting it fine. Anything more than an hour, and most likely a few matches will have to come back early tomorrow morning and finish up. Fingers crossed … though given this storm was forecast with a 60 percent probability last night, you have to wonder why they didn’t get the groups out a little earlier this morning in order to give themselves a little slack. Anyway, here we are.
Anyway, with everyone off to take shelter – and the leader Rose safely on the 7th green in two, while Zalatoris finds himself in a bunker to the right – this is how the top of the leader board looks …
-7: Rose (6)
-6: Zalatoris (6)
-5: Conners (12), Matsuyama (10), Thomas (8), Leishman (7)
-4: Schauffele (10), Spieth (8), Wiesberger (8), Harman (7)
-3: Kim (9), Finau (8)
-2:Jones (12), Champ (9)
-1: Reed (F), Na (F), Stenson (16), Lowry (14), Hughes (14), MacIntyre (14), Cink (13), Palmer (11)
E: Mickelson (F), Molinari (F), Simpson (F), Niemann (F), Scheffler (F), Rahm (F), Hovland (13)
That weather warning came out of nowhere. The satellite pictures suggest a lot of rain may be on the cards, but hopefully not a great deal in the way of electrical excitement … and there doesn’t appear to be anything looming behind it. So fingers crossed that it’ll pass through quickly. Given the increasing difficulty of the course as the wind got up, you’d imagine plenty of the players will welcome a good drenching to slow the greens down a bit.
Up on 8, Spieth, badly out of position down the left of the hole, manufactures an absurd escape from the bushes, using the bank behind the cup to bring his ball to four feet. A sensational birdie … and not a bad way to go into an enforced weather break. Storm’s a-comin’ through, and the klaxon goes.
Bob MacIntyre, the latest great Scottish hope, looks the real deal. He’s making his Masters debut and showing the sort of moxie he’ll need to succeed around here one day. A lovely long iron into 14, using the camber at the back to bring the ball back towards the hole, sets up birdie. He’s-1.
It’s getting tough out there. A staunch up and down from the bottom of the bank at the front of 10 saves Hideki Matsuyama’s par, but Marc Leishman can’t make a sand save from a deep bunker at 7. Both folks are -5.
“That’s so far into Narnia!” DeChambeau, working a few things out after his double at 12, blooters his drive at 13 into a gaggle of patrons down the right. That might be in Mickelson Country, the pine straw from which Lefty stuck a dagger through Lee Westwood’s heart in 2010. Or it could be even wilder. Either way, the next shot is likely to be entertaining.