Scheffler recovers from horror stretch to take Masters lead

Ronan MacNamara

Scottie Scheffler (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Scottie giveth and Scottie taketh away. Despite trailing by two shots with six holes of round three to play, Scheffler will take a one shot lead into the final round of the Masters.

Scheffler’s been a bastion of efficiency this year and over the first two days at Augusta National, but Saturday was about his resilience and he showed that as he recovered from a three-putt double bogey on the par-4 10th and a bogey on the 11th brought his streak of 282 consecutive holes without back-to-back bogeys or worse to an end.

The world number one held out for a par on 12 and while his nearest challengers all faffed and fumbled about, failing to pull away from him, he drew level once more, rolling in a 31-foot eagle putt to get back to six-under. He then took the lead on his own with a birdie on the par-5 15th.

Just as Collin Morikawa made a terrific up and down to sign for a 69 and a six-under-total to share the lead after Scheffler dropped a shot, the 2022 Masters champion ended the day with a sucker punch to the field, rolling in a closing birdie from 8-feet for a rollercoaster 71 and the solo lead.

“I feel like my game is in a good spot, my swing has been in a good spot for some time now. Major championships are always very challenging, I’m in a good spot right now and it’s nice to have a lead going into tomorrow and I’m going to stick to my process and try and hit good shots.

Teeing off with a share of the halfway advantage with Bryson DeChambeau and Max Homa, Scheffler threatened to pull away with a sensational chip in on the first. A long range birdie on the 3rd took him clear of the pack despite not playing particularly well. A bogey on the par-3 4th stalled his momentum and it was all pars until that rocky run around the turn before he recovered himself with a vengeance.

“The eagle on 13 was extremely important after the double on 10 and bogey on 11. I hit a good shot into 12 it just went over the green and I made a nice seven footer for par which turned the momentum around and the ball was trickling towards the cup on 13 and it looked like it may stay short but it’s nice to see it roll over the edge and and that’s where the excitement was from.

“It’s fun. It’s fun to be out here in contention and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Morikawa put together the second best round of the day after a roaring start with three successive opening birdies. He dropped a shot on the par-3 6th but got it back with a birdie on the 8th. Despite passing up great birdie opportunities on 13 and 15 he finished his round with ten closing pars as everyone around him began to make errors as Augusta got firm and fast.

“Look, tomorrow, anything could happen. There’s still a lot of guys right beneath us. We don’t know what conditions are going to be like. The greens are getting firmer than I’ve ever seen out here. So it’s going to play a lot different from kind of what we’ve seen the first two rounds.

“You know, at the end of the day, I know where my head is at. I know what I need to focus on, and I know what needs to be done if I want to close it off tomorrow.”

“The two-time major winner has been shuffling his putters having started the week with a Taylormade Spider mallet putter, he changed back to the blade after the first round.

“I came into this week not putting well or not feeling comfortable with the putter that I had in my hands. Went full 180, switched to the mallet, switched to the Spider, and was feeling great, to be honest.

“I felt really, really good. Felt better than I’ve kind of felt all year. But sometimes you don’t know how it’s going to feel in the tournament. Through that Thursday and then Friday morning round, it was just for me to finish the round, like I just wanted to get the putter out of my hands because I couldn’t get comfortable with it.

“And thankfully I had a backup, something — a copy of what I’ve putted with in the past, pretty much the past year and a half. Felt like old times and nice to have that in the back again.

“Didn’t make the putts I necessarily wanted today. Missed a few out there, but everything still feels comfortable. That’s the biggest thing is feeling comfortable going into tomorrow.”

Homa endured a frustrating day on the greens, carding seventeen pars and one bogey on an afternoon where he continued to burn edges. But he held a huge clutch par putt on the 18th which will surely soften the blow and keep him within two shots of the lead on five-under.

After a double bogey on 15 and a three-putt bogey on 16, DeChambeau looked to have let his Masters chances slip through his fingers before he held out from the fairway with a wedge for a birdie to bring the house down on another chaotic afternoon.

The 2020 US Open champion lies four back on three-under after a 75 with major championship debutant Ludvig Åberg a shot ahead of him on -4 after a solid round of 70.

It’s a bunched leaderboard with the top-8 players separated by just five shots with Cameron Davis, Nicolai Hojgaard – who led on -7 after ten holes – and Xander Schauffele lurking on two-under.


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