Koepka, Rahm & Hovland all set for an almighty battle at Augusta National

John Shortt

Jon Rahm during the third round of the 2023 Masters Tournament (Image: Masters Media)

At the start of the day it looked like it might be all one-way traffic for Brooks Koepka as he held a four-shot lead, but that all changed inside 2 minutes of the restart with a two-shot swing where Koepka bogeyed and Rahm birdied and then it was game on!

For the neutral that was just the start we wanted to see and with no Irish dog in the fight we want the best European on recent form challenging for the title. He is up against some tough opposition though with Koepka 3-for-3 when holding 54-hole leads in Major championships.

“Look, it’s going to be an interesting afternoon,” said Koepka.


“If the wind keeps blowing and keeps swirling like this down there, anything can happen. You’ve just got to be in control of your ball.

“It’s not playing as long as it did yesterday. You had a little bit of wind and rain, so it doesn’t help, but just the wind is fine.”

No, it’s worked so far, so just keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing. Hopefully play good and see where it puts me.

As for Rahm, with the deficit halved from what it was at the start of Sunday (although it’s the same as it was on Saturday morning) he feels he’s playing well enough and just needs to keep it going.

“I thought it was good. It’s not easy. Cold and windy, wet. Not the easiest. Obviously I started really good making those putts on 7, 8, 9 and the par putt on 10, and after that just couldn’t quite get it going.

“With the wind we’re going to have today, the main thing is staying committed to whatever shot you pick. Have a clear picture and commit to it. It’s always going to be better to maybe have the lower percentage shot but commit to it than the higher percentage not and not committed. Should be a fun afternoon.”

And as for what he feels he needs to do to catch Koepka?

“Well, it’s important to be in the final pairing, the closest pursuer. I mean, I can’t be worrying too much about what he’s doing. My objective today is to focus on my own game and what I can control. Whatever Brooks does is whatever Brooks does.”

Viktor Hovland is only one behind Rahm so could yet prove to be a factor and you definitely can’t rule him out after his 5-birdie blitz on the back nine in the third round and he has a chance to put a score on the board ahead of the final two-ball.

“The strategy is basically the same, but I feel like it maybe helps my mindset a little bit,” said Hovland.

Hovland will be off at 2:24pm local time from the first tee in the group ahead of Koepka and Rahm and he knows he has to make it happen for himself and not be concerned with what’s happening behind him.

“I have to go out there and get it. So if I can keep the mindset that I had on that back nine versus maybe the guys in the lead, they feel like they have to protect maybe a little bit more. So hopefully I can take advantage of that.”

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