AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s been all about lucky number 7 this year at the Masters.
In both rounds where we’ve had a new leader, they’ve shot 7-under.
Moving day has come and passed, and now there’s a new face at the top of the leaderboard, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
As he surged to a four-stroke lead after Day 3 of the Masters, a bunch of other expected challengers got stuck in neutral or fell by the wayside.
What’s happened today
- Xander Schauffele is trying to put some heat on Hideki Matsuyama. Schauffele tapped in for his third straight birdie at No. 14, pushing his score to 9 under for the tournament and within four strokes of the leader in the final group at Augusta National. But the American is running out of time.
- Hideki Matsuyama remains comfortably ahead at the Masters. Is it over? Jordan Spieth might say otherwise. It was five years ago when Spieth took a five-shot lead into the back nine at Augusta National. He went bogey-bogey and then put two balls into Rae’s Creek to make a quadruple-bogey 7. Danny Willett went on to win the Masters that year.
- Hideki Matsuyama started the day with a four-shot lead at the Masters. For a moment, it was down to one. Matsuyama pushed his opening tee shot into the pine straw off the right of the first fairway on his way to a bogey to begin his final round at Augusta National.
- Billy Horschel made a stop at Waterworld. After playing barefoot out of the creek at Augusta National’s 13th hole for the second day in a row, Horschel flew the green with his second shot on No. 15, the ball skipping all the way into the pond at the next hole.
- The final round of the Masters started with all the familiar pin positions for Sunday at Augusta National. Hideki Matsuyama takes a four-shot lead into the final round. He is trying to become the first Japanese player to win a major and the second major champion from an Asian country.
A 60-year milestone for Player
This week has marked a big anniversary for a major Masters milestone for someone on the tee box.
It’s been 60 years since Gary Player became the first international golfer to win a green jacket.
The South African would go on to win it two more times.
In all, Player has won more than 160 professional tournaments on six continents over seven decades.
At 85 years young, he’s still going strong.
We caught up with his grandsons at the driving range, who told us it was a special drive down Magnolia Lane.
On the way to Augusta National one day, he asked grandson James Throssell to tourn off the radio in the car so he could focus.
“So you know this means a lot to him,” Throssell said.
His grandchildren told us they are continually blown away with what he’s achieved.
What’s gone through Player’s mind when he’s sat there in silence and taken it all in?
“Most times, I’ve walked up there in a sign of gratitude, Just to realize how lucky I am to be in this great country,” the three-time Masters champion said.
As far as Rose is concerned, ‘it’s all up for grabs’
After a dominant first round, Justin Rose came back to Earth on Friday.
He still held the lead after the second round, but now finds himself four back after another even par day.
Rose still believes in himself and the rest of the field at 7 under.
“Yeah, you know, and so I’ve been playing with the lead the whole week, and obviously there’s been an hour of golf where Hideki has sort of moved out there in front,” Rose said. “You know, all the guys chasing at 7-under par are all capable of that little run that Hideki has had, so it’s all up for grabs.”
Azalaeas leave Reed’s shirt with a tie-dyed look
Patrick Reed had a solid round on Saturday. He’s 1 under after three rounds and still could make a push on Sunday. Reed had been struggling with the par 5′s this week, so much so that this year he isn’t a fan of one of the staples of Augusta National.
“My wife, she always says how pretty the azaleas are. Well, I don’t really find them that pretty this year because I keep on being in them on that hole,” he said. “Yesterday I started the hole with a pure white shirt and afterwards I had purple and pink and every other color on it. Looked like I had a tie-dyed shirt on because I was having to dig trying to find my golf ball.”
‘Nobody expected it’ for Olazabal to make the cut
November saw a number of former champions make incredible runs and play the weekend.
That hasn’t been as pronounced this year.
However, there are diamonds in the rough. Jose Maria Olazabal made the cut for the first time in seven years, and says friends and family were more shocked than him.
“Nobody expected it, and that’s why I got so many messages,” he said. “Oh, you made it. You made it. That was it. They were all pretty happy. As I said, pretty much unexpected after seven years of not making the cut. I don’t think many people would expect me to make the cut, and they were all happy.”
Finau gets a surprise call during weather delay
Cellphones are almost entirely forbidden at Augusta National, so imagine Tony Finau’s surprise Saturday when he got told during a weather delay that someone wanted to talk with him.
It was a FaceTime call.
From Tom Brady.
Here’s what happened: Play was suspended around 4 p.m. because of dangerous weather in the area, and Finau went to the caddie house to wait for the resumption of play.
That’s when Jimmy Dunne, an Augusta National member, just happened to be on the phone with Brady — the seven-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Brady said he’d like to talk to Finau, so they chatted.
Schauffele is hoping for a change this year
Xander Schauffele is in what has become familiar territory.
He’s close to the top of the leaderboard in a major championship.
He’s hoping Sunday isn’t more of the same when it comes to finishes.
Schauffele shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to get to 7 under through three rounds of the Masters, leaving him four shots back of Hideki Matsuyama going into the final round.
And now comes another chance for a major breakthrough.
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