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4 Things We Learned from Day 3 at the Masters

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Another day has gone by at Augusta. Here is what we learned from an at-times bombastic Saturday.

The Four Biggest Names In Golf All Should Be In Contention

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Even before this tournament, Jordan Spieth would’ve been among this select quartet, and that certainly hasn’t changed after these magnificent 54 holes that see him four clear of the field.

But the trio of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy produced a great deal of drama on Saturday and held together well over the three days.

Mickelson captured eight birdies in the third round, none more goose-bump worthy than this brilliant roll on the 16th green:

That stroke of genius was actually preceded by this rollicking approach into a par-5.

It added up to a 67 and an 11-under total.

Woods manufactured some inspiring moments of his own (more on that shortly) in a third-day 68 that left him at 6-under. McIlroy matched the 68 and 6-under score. All three shot 32 on the front nine.

Mickelson still has a shot being five back of Spieth’s 16-under total. But without the 21-year-old’s otherworldly performance, the lead would be -12, and Woods and McIlroy would still be lurking just six back and four players ahead of them.

Honestly then, Spieth’s performance has turned a star effort from golf’s top group into a bit of an average showing, which is pretty remarkable.

Woods and McIlroy are paired for Sunday, something that would be more fun if they were actually in contention.

Wild Tiger is still the best Tiger

Woods doesn’t make life easy for himself on the golf course sometimes, and that only adds to the sheer excitement behind his every win.

The 39-year-old displayed that power of his to its finest on the 13th hole on Saturday.

This is how he drove it on the gettable par-5:

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A 176-yard whopper there, and Woods was certainly fortuitous to not be taking a penalty stroke. He punched out, though, to 175 yards and hit a bold approach past a back hole location that portended trouble for any player who trundled over the green.

From there, Woods had a slippery, heavy left-to-right downhill putt for an unfathomable birdie, and he did this:

04-11-15-tiger-putt-13

That birdie put Woods at 7-under and fans and media alike went into a frenzy over that awful drive that somehow netted a four.

It goes to show that Woods escaping trouble never gets old. And whatever happens the rest of the way at this Masters, he won’t just saunter off quietly into his old age.

Sleeper Names in Line for some high finishes

JustinRose

There are plenty of big dogs near (and in) the lead, but five among the top 11 could be classified as pretty big sleepers coming into this event.

Starting from the bottom at T10, Paul Casey is potentially within grasp of another high Masters finish. It’s hard to call the former No. 3 player in the world a sleeper, and becomes doubly difficult when Casey emerged as a common sleeper pick this week, but he did fall off the map a bit as his career has seen its downs in recent years and he’s only shown some measure of resurgence since 2014.

At 6-under and T5, Kevin Streelman, he of 2015 Masters Par-3 Contest victory fame along with, you know, those seven straight birdies to win at the Travelers last year, could post his first major championship top-10 on Sunday.

The spirited Kevin Na also finds himself 6-under and T5, and laid-back Charley Hoffman is 10-under and in solo fourth. Na has little history of showing up in majors (mainly just last year’s U.S. Open), and this is Hoffman’s second career Masters.

Pretty much nobody acknowledged their existence coming into this week…except here (full disclosure, I also expected Spieth to falter this week and not contend, so egg me for that if you must).

Finally, there’s Justin Rose. OK, the Englishman is a really big name, but he was barely on the radar heading into this week after a dismal start to the season that included three missed cuts and zero top-25s in six starts. And damn him forever for his triple bogey to end last week’s Shell Houston Open and shoo away the one person that may have believed in him.

Nonetheless another little picked player with a chance for a high finish (or win).

Spieth does make mistakes…and hasn’t quite closed the door

SpiethJordan

To preface: This 54-hole performance from Spieth has no doubt been one for the ages so far, and he is clearly still in an extremely favorable position to win this year’s Masters.

But…this thing is not over.

The 21-year-old was basically flawless over the first two days, just one bogey on the card total, yet leaked some oil on the opening nine in round three. Spieth bogeyed two of his first seven holes, and his lead was down to four at times in that stretch including after the 11th hole.

He missed a short par effort on 14, but sandwiched it between four birdies and it seemed like Spieth had weathered the storm from behind, which included Woods, McIlroy and Mickelson (especially) making big noise. His lead actually grew to seven.

Then he made a sloppy and uncharacteristic double bogey on 17 and only a miraculous save on 18 kept his lead from dropping to three heading into the final day.

Honestly, this isn’t at all surprising. Spieth played spectacularly over the first two days and is a superstar talent, but he wasn’t going to be perfect forever. Aside from that double bogey, he mostly managed his mistakes very well and doesn’t appear ready to collapse on Sunday.

Yet, McIlroy seemed just as unflappable with a four-shot lead and 18 holes remaining at Augusta four years ago. I’m not expecting Spieth to shoot 80 tomorrow, nor am I expecting him to do anything but capture that Green Jacket.

The loss remains possible, though, and a close finish at Augusta, while unlikely, isn’t out of the question.

*h/t to Adam Sarson for compiling all of the best Masters GIFs and Videos on his website.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Golfer Steve

    Apr 24, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Phil looked great

  2. RG

    Apr 12, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for telling me what I saw. Without being told what I had seen I would not have known what I was looking at.

  3. Norm

    Apr 12, 2015 at 11:55 am

    That was the most girly, childish, “please watch what I do” fist pump ever from a very under-developed human being in Eldrick. Just exemplifies his need for attention. Such a child. He’s still pretending to be normal.

  4. other paul

    Apr 12, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Ahhhhh! Dammit Tiger!. I love what he yells at himself. “Tiger! You idiot!”

  5. 8thehardway

    Apr 12, 2015 at 4:52 am

    I need Spieth to finish first but instead of padding his lead he opened the door for Phil and, especially, Justin who ended his round looking like Spieth did on Th and Friday. I see an epic collapse coming.

  6. slider

    Apr 11, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    tiger with some unique words after his tee shot gotta love the grit

  7. Progolfer

    Apr 11, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    What an awesome day at the Masters today! I think it’s going to take 18 under to win it, and I don’t think it’s going to be Spieth. We shall wait and see!

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