AUGUSTA, Ga. — The third spherical of the Masters event started Saturday with a gusting wind that bedeviled the sphere and appeared to make the agency, already crusty Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership greens extra parched, speedy and vexing.
Then, simply earlier than 4 p.m., a rainstorm with the potential for thunder and lightning despatched the golfers scurrying to the protection of the clubhouse. After a 78 minute suspension of play, gamers returned to a golf course that was way more forgiving with dampened, considerably slower greens. The wind had all however disappeared.
Sensing the reprieve, many within the area attacked.
Main the cost was Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who shot a glowing 65 by enjoying his ultimate eight holes in six underneath par. At 11 underneath par for the event, Matsuyama, 29, will take an authoritative four-shot lead into Sunday’s ultimate spherical. 4 golfers are tied for second: second-round chief Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman and Masters rookie Will Zalatoris.
If Matsuyama, the 2017 P.G.A. Tour rookie of the 12 months and a runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 2019 Masters, can retain his lead on Sunday, he’ll develop into the primary Asian to win the Masters. He’s the primary Japanese participant to carry the lead on the finish of any Masters spherical.
Matsuyama stated he felt relaxed through the climate delay as a result of the final shot he hit earlier than the suspension of play — a drive off the eleventh tee — was his worst swing of the spherical.
“I believed I can’t hit something worse than that,” he stated by means of an interpreter. “Possibly it relieved a number of the stress. I did hit it nicely after the delay.”
That’s an understatement. Matsuyama, who’s ranked twenty fifth on the planet, placed on a superlative show of ball hanging that will sometime make up a lot of the spotlight reel of the 2021 Masters.
Matsuyama started Saturday with six successive pars and caught Rose with a birdie on the seventh gap. Then he poured it on, starting along with his strategy to the elusive eleventh inexperienced that resulted in a transformed 12-foot birdie putt. Matsuyama’s tee shot to the difficult par-3 twelfth settled solely eight toes from the opening for an additional birdie. After three successive pars, Matsuyama eagled the par-5 fifteenth gap when his second shot — a towering, exact 5-iron — landed 4 toes from the flagstick. His birdie putt on the par-3 sixteenth was even nearer, which Matsuyama banged house confidently. The seventeenth gap was extra of the identical after two exceedingly correct photographs from the tee and the golf green.
Probably the most nervous second Matsuyama had on the again 9 was when he flew his second shot 20 yards over the 18th inexperienced, however a nifty bump-and-run pitch left a tap-in par putt.
After the rainstorm, Matsuyama conceded he, “hit virtually each shot precisely like I needed to do.”
If Matsuyama wins on Sunday, it could be the second victory for a Japanese golfer on the grounds within the final eight days. On Apr. 3, 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani, who’s from Okayama, Japan, gained this 12 months’s Augusta Nationwide Ladies’s Novice event.
“It was implausible,” Matsuyama stated of Kajitani’s victory. “I hope I can observe in her footwear and make Japan proud.”
Matsuyama had seven P.G.A. Tour and European Tour victories from 2014 to 2017. He stated there have been a wide range of causes he has been winless for the previous couple of years, however famous that this 12 months he started touring with a Japanese coach, Hidenori Mezawa, which he referred to as a “nice profit.”
“Issues that I used to be feeling in my swing, I might discuss to him about that, and he offers me good suggestions,” Matsuyama stated. “It’s like having a mirror for my swing. Hopefully now it’s all beginning to come collectively.”
Earlier than the climate delay, a lot of the second-round leaders performed inconsistently or downright struggled. Rose, who started Saturday with a one-stroke lead at seven underneath par, opened with consecutive birdies on the primary two holes however then had successive bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes. Rose rallied to shoot even par the remainder of the best way. Brian Harman, who trailed Rose by one stroke to start his spherical, slumped to a 74 that left him at 4 underneath par for the event.
Probably the most curler coaster outing was turned in by Jordan Spieth, who within the second spherical had moved to inside two strokes of Rose. On the seventh gap on Saturday, Spieth despatched his strategy shot over the inexperienced then flubbed a chip shot and hit a very aggressive bunker shot that led to a double bogey. He was in even worse bother on the subsequent gap when his tee shot was to this point left it appeared he was virtually replaying the seventh. Buried within the woods, Spieth lofted an iron shot over a tall stand of pine bushes that landed three toes from the eighth gap for a straightforward birdie. A chip-in birdie on the tenth gap adopted, as did an eagle on the fifteenth, however these successes have been offset by the sooner setbacks, and Spieth concluded with a spherical of 72, trailing Matsuyama by six photographs.
Zalatoris appeared probably the most relaxed because the third spherical started with a string of pars and a nifty birdie on the par-4 third gap. However Zalatoris, 24, didn’t seem to regulate nicely to the slower inexperienced speeds after the rainstorm, and missed a number of birdie putt makes an attempt on the again 9 to shoot 71.
Corey Conners, with a gap in a single on the sixth gap, made the most important early transfer up the leaderboard on Saturday to complete at six-under-par, simply behind the gaggle tied for second.
Schauffele, who was grouped with Matsuyama, shot a powerful 68 and nonetheless had time to trade repartee in Japanese along with his enjoying associate. Schauffele’s maternal grandparents lived in Japan and he stated he has picked up a number of the language.
Or as Matsuyama stated of his dialog with Schauffele: “We didn’t get an opportunity to speak quite a bit, however after we did, we exchanged some good Japanese jokes and had an excellent giggle.”
Matsuyama and Schauffele are paired collectively once more for Sunday’s ultimate spherical, and are scheduled to tee off at 2:40 p.m. Jap time.