Masters Sunday unlikely to disappoint
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 US Masters | Round Three | 13 Apr 2014
Thirteen players are within four shots of the lead heading into the final round of the 2014 Masters and while the eventual winner is likely to come from that group, the possibilities do not end there.
Perhaps even as far back as 1 over par is still a hope as a player out ninety minutes ahead of the final pairing and able to shoot a round of 65 or 66 is not yet without hope.
In what of the most open final rounds in recent times, the leaderboard features the old and the new, the experienced and the inexperienced and of the first nine players only Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk have won major championships previously.
2012 champion Bubba Watson and twenty year old Jordan Spieth lead by one over argubaly the game’s most consistent players without a major to his name, Matt Kuchar, and Swedish debutante, Jonas Blixt.
Although Watson bogeyed the first, a 7 iron (yes a 7 iron) to the second set up an eagle and all of a sudden he was four shots clear. When his playing partner John Senden bogeyed the 3rd his lead was five.
Augusta National, though, has a way of bringing a leader back to the field and three bogeys before the turn saw Watson with many challengers for the lead including Blixt, who despite missing birdies at the 2nd and 8th, still made the turn in 34 and was tied for the lead.
Watson birdied the 10th and with his wheelhouse par fives still to come it appeared it might have been a lead he would extend over the closing eight holes. Rather than that he was unable to capitalise at the 13th and 15th and when he bogeyed the 16th it was a case of whether he could hold onto his lead.
He was able to do so courtesy of two very important par saving putts at the 17th and 18th but he did look vulnerable and stressed over the closing stages and although he still leads or at least shares the lead he has many more challengers than it appeared might have been be the case early in his round.
Spieth has been simply brilliant in his debut at Augusta National, almost belying the theory that it takes plenty of experience to handle the vagaries of the layout while in contention. There is still a long way to go and one mistake can prove very costly in the heat of the battle. That may or may not happens tomorrow but whatever he does tomorrow Spieth will be even better next time or perhaps it a case of not being fully aware of the dangers aiding his cause?
Kuchar has being throwing out signals for some time that this could be his year. His magnificent consistency is his hallmark and despite letting a couple of great opportunities slip in recent weeks he may yet be the man to beat. Many years ago Kuchar gave an indication when making the cut and finishing 21st on debut as an amateur at Augusta National in 1998 that he would be in this position much earlier. He now has a chance to not only win this great event but to elevate himself to being a major winner.
At the age of 50, Jimenez stands a chance of becoming the oldest player to ever win a major championship, that achievement currently held by Jack Nicklaus when he won this event at the age of 46 28 years ago. The Spaniard’s round of 66 has been the best of the week to date. He will not need anything like that tomorrow in order to win his first major but Masters Sunday and Masters Saturday are chalk and cheese. Either way it has been a phenomenal effort.
The Australians disappointed and while not totally out of it there chances now seem slim. Senden’s bogey at the last after staging yet another good recovery from a slow start was disappointing as, it not only widens the gap between he and the leaders, it perhaps changes his mindset. He is though only four from the lead and is playing well so could still challenge.
Adam Scott again struggled through the opening few holes, effectively costing himself a chance to successfully defend. If he could find a way to shoot 65 tomorrow then he is still a live chance but that is a huge task. Six shots is not an impossible deficit but with so many good players ahead of him his task is formidable.
Scott will play with Jason Day tomorrow and it may be that the comfort zone they enjoyed when playing together and sharing 2nd three years ago might assist them in producing the something special they need.
Steven Bowditch recorded a round of 74 and is in a share of 29th which in his first major appearance is a very impressive debut to date.
Oliver Goss was round in 76 today but he has already locked up the leading amateur honours which is a tremendous effort for the man who turned 20 today.
Day four of the 2014 Masters promises an intriguing battle between those who have won majors and those who have not, those experienced at Augusta National and those who are defying logic by playing so well on debut.
Masters Sunday is unlikely to let us down.