After two days playing catch up the 84th edition of the Masters is finally back on track as the third round was completed just before dusk on Saturday.
The man who enjoyed round three the most was world number one Dustin Johnson who shot a flawless round of 65, his second of the week, to sit on -16 and four shots clear of the chasing pack.
DJ has looked in complete control for most of this week and with the big names, Rahm and Thomas, his main rivals going into the third round stalling, his nearest challengers now are Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer and our pre-tournament pick Cameron Smith.
Basically, without stating the obvious, this is Johnson’s to lose and anything under par on Sunday will make him very tough to beat.
While it is incredibly hard to see past a Johnson win, golf being what it is, I wouldn’t completely rule out a shock as it should be said he does have ‘previous’ in Majors of not getting the job done on Sunday.
As recently as at the PGA Championship in August he held a one-shot lead going into the final round before losing out to Colin Morikawa and he has had other chances to add to his Major silverware since his lone win in the US Open at Oakmont in 2016.
Don’t be surprised if we see some nerves from Johnson on Sunday and things may even get close. Ultimately though I expect the world number one to prevail and I see no value in taking him on, particularly as we already have one of the main chasers, Smith, onside.
Instead, then I shall turn our attention in the hunt for value to the final round three balls starting with Shane Lowry in the 1.12pm GMT tee time who is alongside Tiger Woods and Scottie Scheffler.
After a slow start to the week Lowry has improved his score every day posting an impressive 68 on Saturday and with Augusta’s green speeds hopefully getting closer to what you would expect on Sunday his experience and touch on the slick surfaces should come more to the fore.
Scheffler conversely is making his debut this week and has regressed each day with his total and it may just be his lack of experience around Augusta is starting to catch up with him. Woods, of course, has way more experience here than his playing partners can ever dream of, however, on Saturday he appeared to be struggling with his movement again as the long day caught up with him and with every possibility that his back issues are there on Sunday he is worth opposing. As the outsider of the three, Lowry looks worth risking here.
Next up I am going to take a chance on Paul Casey who tees off at 1.34pm GMT alongside Cameron Champ and Corey Conners.
Casey who held a share of the lead after day one has laboured since with efforts of 74 and 71. However what draws me to him here is his history of saving his best until last at Augusta with his last four Sunday efforts being 65, 68, 67 and 68. Basically when the pressure is off the Englishman has relaxed and produced the goods. Of his two playing partners Conners has built his week on a great 65 on Friday when his putter, normally his weakest link, ran hot, however again with green speeds increasing he looks likely to me to get found out in this department.
Champ meanwhile who was on a lot of people’s shortlists coming into the week produced a strong 68 on Saturday and is not dismissed lightly, however, Casey’s far greater experience and track record on Masters Sunday is enough to give him the nod for me here.
Finally, I fully expect Jon Rahm to bounce back from his disappointing Saturday effort and I will take him to see off Patrick Reed and Sebastian Munoz when they tee off at 2.07pm GMT .
I sided with Rahm yesterday to upstage Dustin Johnson and needless to say that did not go to plan as regardless of DJ’s strong play Rahm lost his way after a double-bogey seven on the eighth hole.
As we know through the world’s top players are made of strong stuff and I expect Rahm, who will be fuming with himself after yesterday’s effort to produce a strong round today.
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