Moving day at this year’s Masters did not disappoint. Round 3 began with a four-way tie for first (Hoffman, Garcia, Pieters, Fowler), but Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth put on a show and really took control of their destinies.
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, got going on the back nine. He birdied five of the final seven holes to earn the day’s best score with a 5-under 67. Rose was so hot from the 12th to the 18th, he went 5-under on Saturday compared to +1 in each of the previous rounds.
The 12th was particularly beautiful when his approach shot dropped and stopped perfectly, five feet from the hole. That’s when the birdie party started. Rose dropped two more sensational shots right onto the green on the 17th and 18th, birdying both from 19 and 11 feet away respectively.
“I’ve been thinking well, making good decisions,” Rose said about whether he felt the need to ramp things up. “And then today I began to feel very comfortable on the greens. Things began to click and I had my run. I trusted in that fact, but yeah I did set sort of a positive goal going forward to start making some birdies.”
Rose will play in the final group with Sergio Garcia on Sunday.
Garcia, who is still looking for his first major, is tied for or leads after 54 holes in a major for just the second time. He was solid all day and stayed poised down the stretch in the last group with Charley Hoffman. Garcia could have easily made a mistake on the 18th green and forced himself to three-putt, but he kept his cool and saved par to ensure himself another final group spot on Sunday.
“It was nice,” Garcia said about his day. “It was hard, but it was fun. It was fun to play well again, to go through a Saturday at The Masters with a chance of winning and to be up there going into tomorrow. I’m going to play with Justin who is a good friend of mine too. It should be a great matchup in that last group.”
Jordan Spieth was right on the cusp of playing in four-straight final groups at The Masters. He fell just short of that feat, but had a noticeably different demeanor. Spieth was four-over at the 15th on Thursday, but after the kind of round we expect from him, he enters Sunday at four-under and just two shots off the lead.
“I feel great,” Spieth said about his mindset. “After the first round, I couldn’t ask for much better than this and we fought back tremendously to have a chance to win this golf tournament. No matter what happens at the end, we will have a chance to win with a really good round tomorrow.”
“New experience for coming from behind on Sunday at the Masters, which is kind of fun to say,” he added. “We have a great history here, really enjoy playing this golf course, enjoy the imagination that’s necessary. Tomorrow, it might free me up a bit, being behind. I plan to play aggressive because at this point, it’s win or go home.”
Spieth was so good that his second shot on No. 8 bounced near the edge of the green, rolled off it, and rolled back to within 10 feet of the cup. He got into a little trouble on the 13th when his tee shot landed in the pine straw. After debating the next move with his caddie, Michael Greller, Spieth simply asked, “What would Arnie do, Mike?”
Seemingly paying homage to The King, Spieth chose to be aggressive and struck the ball over the water, dropping it 30 feet to the pin. He two-putted for birdie.
"What would Arnie do, Mike?"
❤️ #️ArniesArmy pic.twitter.com/MHCjkYgAKe
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 9, 2017
Rickie Fowler will play with Spieth in the second to last group on Sunday. Last year, he didn’t even play during the weekend and through the first ten on Saturday, it kind of felt like things just weren’t quite going his way. Fowler had three bogeys and just two birdies when he began the 11th.
Then he showed why he’s a Top 10 player in the world over the final eight holes, consistently saving par with clutch putts and adding two more birdies. Where Charley Hoffman stumbled, Fowler kept his cool and put himself in position to capture his first major.
“I feel great on the golf course,” Fowler said about how he’s feeling. “It feels like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. It doesn’t feel out of place. Yeah, I get nervous on some shots out there; you get nervous on the first tee, but I’m settling into rounds very well. I’m thinking clearly, I’m not rushing, it just feels good out there.”
Hoffman and Thomas Pieters who started moving day tied for the lead both fell off the pace a bit, finishing with a 72 and 75 respectively. Even so, the green jacket will be up for grabs with one through nine only separated by five shots. Ryan Moore, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, and Lee Westwood are all in the mix as well.
One way or another, as ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt expects, we should see fireworks on Masters Sunday.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 9, 2017
h/t: masters.com, espn.com