Sunday, 05 July, 2020

Fowler, Hoffman edge ahead at sun-drenched Masters

Sergio Garcia GETTY Sergio Garcia has played 19 Masters and never done better than eighth
Vera Richards | 19 April, 2017, 02:03

Twenty years after Tiger Woods made the golf world tremble with his dominance at the '97 Masters, Jordan Spieth is sending shivers through the 2017 Masters field - in his own way.

He has plenty of company.

The day started with Hoffman, Garcia, Fowler and Belgian Thomas Pieters tied for first at 4 under.

The Masters is headed for a big finish, with four major title winners in the top-10 going into tomorrow's final round, and Australia's Adam Scott just three shots off the lead. The forecast is for little-to-no wind, sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s.

One of the players expected to make a big run Saturday was Rory McIlroy, who began the day five shots off the lead at 1-over.

"I think it's a really good thing", said Fowler, who birdied all four par 5s in the third round and is at 5-under 211. "So he's going to have to play nice tomorrow and we'll get that Sunday pairing". "We're in a good spot".

"It's going to be fun".

It could've been a lot better.

Rose, who was three shots off the lead entering Saturday's third round, finished with a 5-under-par 67.

Pieters said he grew up watching the Masters and dreamed of success in the year's first major, outdueling the game's best to earn the green jacket.

One such good break Garcia experienced Saturday came at the par-5 13th. Hoffman was simply happy to join them. He bogeyed the first hole, though he got the shot back with a birdie on the second.

The leaders were at 4-under 140.

Charley Hoffman is back in the lead, but an all too familiar name is lurking and ready to pounce at the Masters.

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However, after a bogey at the 14 Hoffman suffered a horror-show 16 hole - finding the water and carding a double bogey to drop back to four-under and two shots back of the leaders.

There are quite a few certainties at the Masters - Amen Corner, green jackets, fast greens, pimento cheese sandwiches. The American, who looks born on the slick greens and surrounds of Augusta, drained a superb 44-foot putt for birdie at the par-three sixth before recording a textbook birdie at the eighth. He shot a 2-under 70 with six birdies leading the way.

"I started well, hit some great shots, nothing went in", Hoffman said.

"I had some chances on the back nine that I could have converted", said the four-time major victor.

You've got to hand it to Sergio Garcia.

His tee shot on No. 10 clipped a tree and shot back into the fairway, while Shane Lowry also hit a tree and couldn't find it. Both were wearing dark sweaters during the search, and the scorers were confused with who lost the ball.

Garcia's 70 was a major triumph for him. Spieth, who lost the chance of a second-straight green jacket in a blink of an eye previous year, is looking ominous after carding birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth holes.

"Got to go out there and believe in myself again as much as I've been doing, be patient and don't freak out even if I do something wrong", Garcia said. Garcia has never seriously contended in the Masters, however, so while this is 19th appearance at Augusta, being part of a 36-hole lead is new territory. The former US Open victor, and Olympic gold medallist recorded birdies on his final two holes, in a back-nine of -5, to book his spot in Sunday's final group.

"I really know the course very well", Couples said.

William McGirt is alone in fifth at minus-2 following a 1-over 73.

Also among the big second-round movers were 2013 Masters victor Adam Scott, the Australian charging up the leaderboard with a solid ball-striking display.

And right there with them was Mickelson, who can become the oldest Masters champion.

The last person to win a major championship after trailing by at least 10 shots after the first round was Harry Vardon.


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