With three rounds of the 2019 US Masters now complete we are set for an incredible final day’s action and any number of dramatic storylines could unfold.
Before we touch on the state of play, though, the first thing we need to address is the weather. With thunderstorms forecast for the Augusta area for Sunday afternoon, organisers have decided to bring forward round four tee times to early morning US Time.
Players will tee off in three balls from two tees from 7.30am US time, with the leaders going off at 9.20am, meaning the action gets underway at 12.30pm UK Time. Officials hope to get play completed before the storms hit, however winds are forecast to increase considerably as the morning goes on and I expect this to have a big effect on the scoring compared to yesterday.
So let’s take a look at how things currently stand.
At the head of affairs on -13 we have the 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari. The Italian was flawless yesterday compiling a bogey-free round of 66 and despite the presence of Tiger Woods on the leaderboard he is definitely the man to beat.
When winning the Claret Jug last summer at Carnoustie, Molinari had Tiger for company on Sunday and he kept his composure magnificently as the drama of Tiger’s Sunday charge unfolded. Being paired with ‘The Big Cat’ again today should therefore hold no fears for him.
Moli appears to be in the same ‘zone’ he was in when he won the Open and he is the play for me today at 7/4.
At two shots back on -11 Tiger Woods is naturally the big danger and if Molinari does falter preference is for him to take advantage rather than the third member of the final group Tony Finau [also on -11], who finds himself in this position following a superb 64 yesterday.
Woods’ approach play was magnificent yesterday as he compiled an excellent 67 and the ‘Tiger roars’ could be heard emanating around Augusta.
To me though the key to whether Tiger can land a 15th Major today will be on the greens, as although he has holed his fair share of 20-footers over the week he still looks susceptible on the short ones, and this is where I ultimately suspect he will come undone.
As for Finau, while I don’t doubt that he has the game required to win a Green Jacket one day it is a huge ask for him to follow up yesterday’s 64 and land his second PGA Tour title here, some three years after clinching his first one.
Directly behind this final group we have Brooks Koepka [-10], Ian Poulter [-9] and Webb Simpson [-9].
Of these three I expect the potential challenge to come from Koepka. Since opening up with 66 on Thursday Brooks has not had his A game, however he has found a way to get it round and we know he has what it takes on a Major Sunday.
Like Finau, I suspect Simpson will struggle to follow up the heroics of yesterday’s 64 and, although I would love to be proved wrong, I just have a tough time picturing Poults in a Green Jacket.
Looking now at today’s three ball pairings and there are a couple, which catch my eye. Firstly going off at 1.47pm UK Time, we have Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen.
Starting the final round six shots back is ideal Rickie Fowler territory. Whilst a charge to victory for our pre tournament selection may be a bridge too far I do expect him to put in a strong showing today and in his mind Rickie will certainly be thinking about ‘posting a number’ before the winds get up.
DJ, of course will be thinking the same, however we’ve seen with him before on a Sunday that if things don’t start of well he can lose interest and I am happy to take Rickie over him and Louis, who was disappointing yesterday.
Finally the other player I will be siding with in today’s three balls is the aforementioned Brooks Koepka. As already stated I think any challenge from outside of the final group will come from Brooks and I am happy to have him in a single in his 2.09pm UK Time against Simpson and Poulter as well as in a double with Fowler.
Odds correct at time of posting.