Masters 2021 Stay Updates: Matsuyama, Zalatoris Atop Leaderboard

Will Zalatoris had an unlucky outing on No. 12 and bogeyed the outlet. Hideki Matsuyama’s lead has grown to 6 strokes.

Hideki Matsuyama driving at an earlier hole.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

The Masters Match area has rounded the flip at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership, and Hideki Matsuyama’s lead is constructing ever so barely. However he’s simply now coming into one of the vital fearsome stretches in all of golf.

Now at 13 beneath par for the match after a birdie to complete the primary half of his ultimate spherical, Matasuyama has a five-stroke lead initially of the again 9. Will Zalatoris, who’s taking part in in his first Masters, has not altogether light and is at eight beneath. Jon Rahm, who simply completed his spherical with a 66, rode a six-stroke swing on the day right into a tie for third place with Xander Schauffele.

Only one former Masters winner is within the prime 5 at this level: Jordan Spieth is likely one of the fifth-place contenders at 5 beneath for the match. He has shot even par up to now within the ultimate spherical.

And Justin Rose, who led after Thursday and Friday’s rounds, can also be tied for fifth place. He’s two over for the day.

After birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, Matsuyama is 13 beneath par and leads by 5 strokes.

Look out, people: Jon Rahm has now picked up six strokes right this moment and lurched right into a tie for third. Hideki Matsuyama nonetheless has a five-shot lead over Rahm, who entered Sunday at even par for the match.

Will Zalatoris, after his first nine holes, was three strokes behind the leading Hideki Matsuyama.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

See you subsequent spring, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The Masters Match area, which Hideki Matsuyama nonetheless tops at this hour at 12 beneath par for the week, has been zipping via the course as Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership approaches the crowning of a champion.

Matsuyama opened the day at 11 beneath, however bogeyed the primary gap earlier than recovering nicely on the second, the place he made birdie. Now, via his first 9 holes, Will Zalatoris has narrowed Matsuyama’s result in three strokes.

The participant having the largest day, although, falls just under them on the leaderboard. By 17 holes, Jon Rahm is six beneath on the day, which has vaulted him from a tie for twenty first at dawn to a tie for third. Rahm’s greatest second got here on the second gap, the place he made eagle simply after he carded a birdie on No. 1.

The excellent news for Matsuyama, in addition to main the Masters on Sunday, is that he has made it previous the course’s most tough gap. He made par on No. 5. Xander Schauffele, paired with Matsuyama for the spherical, had a catastrophe: double-bogey. By eight holes, he had shot one over for the day and trailed his companion by six strokes.

Corey Conners didn’t lengthen his luck at No. 6, the place he had a gap in a single on Saturday. Enjoying the par-3 within the ultimate spherical, his tee shot sailed over the inexperienced and a putt simply barely stayed out of the cup. He’s at 5 beneath par and tied for fifth.

Francesco Molinari hitting from the fairway on the fifth hole during the final round of the Masters.
Credit score…Gregory Bull/Related Press

The fifth gap at Augusta Nationwide was not at all times so depressing. Then, forward of the 2019 match, the membership added 40 yards and made it the hardest on the course.

It’s nonetheless not a cheerful place.

Though gamers have mentioned they have been adjusting to the brand new rigors, the sector scored a cumulative 103 over par on the par-4 gap throughout the primary three rounds — the handiwork of 84 bogeys, 9 double-bogeys and simply 5 birdies. (The simplest gap, in case you’re questioning, has been No. 8, with Nos. 6 and 9 roughly within the center.)

Escaping the 2 bunkers earlier than the pin requires 315 of the outlet’s 495 yards, after which there’s one other simply past the inexperienced, which slopes from the again to the entrance.

Gary Participant, a three-time Masters winner, mentioned in an interview final yr that with such a gap design in his day, he would have had to make use of a driver and possibly a 5-wood. Then once more, he mentioned, right this moment’s gamers can afford to method the sport in a different way.

“The ball goes 50 yards additional, and the steel heads hit it a lot additional, and the fairways run extra,” he mentioned. “We by no means had the conditioned fairways, we by no means had the steel heads, we by no means had a ball that goes 50 yards additional and curves much less.”

All of that however, the outlet has, to place it politely, pushed the sector bonkers this yr. Even Hideki Matsuyama, who entered Sunday’s ultimate spherical at 11 beneath par, bogeyed the outlet.

One factor that struck me these previous few days about Will Zalatoris, who’s in second place at eight beneath par, was his absolute confidence regardless of this being his first Masters. However his pleasure was fairly one thing, too: “You’ll see me each single time once I’m on 12, type of wanting again after we cross the bridge and simply type of wanting again on Amen Nook. Get pleasure from it. I’ve been wanting to do that my whole profession, and I put myself in a reasonably great place.” His bogey on No. 3 right this moment is a sure disappointment, however he has narrowed Hideki Matsuyama’s result in three strokes.

Bubba Watson’s distinctive tee shot on No. 16 will arrange nicely for birdie. Tied for twenty third when he arrived on the gap, the two-time Masters winner is poised to recuperate nicely from his displaying in 2020, when he got here in 57th. However chatting with reporters final week, he talked about, of all issues, his Augusta Nationwide breakfast order: “two scrambled eggs, two items of bacon, two biscuits and hash browns.” An impish fan who was listening from afar known as out that Watson may win his third inexperienced jacket if he upped one thing on his order to — you guessed it — three.

Will Zalatoris, a Masters rookie, started off with a birdie on the first hole to pull within three strokes of Hideki Matsuyama.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

The 5 gamers in first or second place coming into Sunday’s fourth spherical of the Masters have remarkably comparable final-round rating averages of their earlier appearances on the match. For Hideki Matsuyama, the third-round chief taking part in in his tenth Masters, his fourth-round common rating has been 71.63. The following highest is Justin Rose, who’s 4 strokes behind Matsuyama. Rose’s final-round common in 15 earlier Masters is 71.43.

Marc Leishman, tied with Rose, has the third highest common ultimate day rating (71.2). Leishman is taking part in in his ninth Masters match. Xander Schauffele has teed it up within the fourth spherical of the Masters three earlier occasions and averaged a one-under-par 71.

Will Zalatoris, additionally tied for second place, is a Masters rookie and has by no means performed on the fourth day of the match. Zalatoris can also be attempting to turn out to be the primary Masters rookie since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the match.

Zalatoris minimize Matsuyama’s result in one with birdies on the primary two holes, however bogeyed No. 3, and after the bogey on No. 1 Matsuyama obtained again to a three-stroke lead with a birdie on No. 2. Xander Schauffele pulled right into a tie with Zalatoris at eight beneath.

Matsuyama, who began the day with a four-stroke lead at 11 beneath par, struggled on his opening drive, sending his ball off to the suitable and into the timber. He bogeyed the primary gap, and his lead has been minimize to at least one with Will Zalatoris gaining.

Phil Mickelson on the third green during the final round.
Credit score…Brian Snyder/Reuters

One of many perks of successful the Masters, in addition to the inexperienced jacket and an instantaneous etching into historical past, is a lifetime invitation to play the match.

Seven previous winners survived the minimize this yr: Phil Mickelson, José María Olazábal, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson. However much more didn’t, together with Dustin Johnson, who gained final yr with a tournament-record 20 beneath par however this time round three-putted six holes.

So why do they arrive again? In Johnson’s case, after all, it’s as a result of he’s nonetheless within the prime of his profession. However contemplate, say, Fred {Couples}, who gained the 1992 match and has positioned no increased than third in a significant since 2005.

“It’s not a contest for me,” {Couples} mentioned final week, earlier than he missed the Masters minimize for the third consecutive match. “The competitors is for myself to play the course the most effective I can, and when that turns into havoc, then I’ll have most likely performed my final Masters.”

Moreover, taking part in or not, most previous winners come again to Augusta annually for the closed-door dinner for the champions and the membership chairman. The 2021 menu, which Johnson chosen and paid for, included pigs-in-a-blanket, filet mignon and peach cobbler.

However for gamers who’re younger sufficient, the hope of one other title lurks. Mickelson, who had a three-under 69 on Saturday to maneuver to even for the match, thought he might nonetheless contend on Sunday — perhaps.

“You need that chance to do what Nicklaus did in ’86 and shoot 65 and have an opportunity,” he mentioned after his third spherical. “I don’t know if that shall be ok, however I’m having plenty of enjoyable.”

Once I performed Augusta Nationwide the day after Tiger Woods’s 2019 victory, I made a par on the treacherous, pivotal par-3 twelfth gap. At about 6 p.m. tonight, I might promote that par to one of many leaders for a princely sum.

Billy Horschel during the second round.
Credit score…David J. Phillip/Related Press

Billy Horschel simply made it via No. 13 with out slipping down a slope.

This counts as one thing of an achievement — even when, for the second consecutive day, he wanted to take away his socks and sneakers to make it via the outlet.

Let’s again up. Horschel’s second shot on Saturday landed in Rae’s Creek, one of many risks of the par-5 gap. So Horschel’s socks and sneakers got here off as he ready to strive a shot from the water. However after he surveyed the inexperienced earlier than his try, he misplaced his footing and slid down the hill, prompting a session with Phil Mickelson, the three-time Masters winner who was his companion for the day, and later blamed the steepness of the financial institution and the wetness of the rye.

“I mentioned, ‘How unhealthy is that grass stain going to be?’” Horschel, who was sporting white pants, recounted after the spherical. “And he mentioned, ‘There is probably not one there,’ and he regarded and mentioned, ‘Yeah, there’s one there. Sorry, buddy.’” (Requested whether or not he had confronted a extra embarrassing second, he replied: “I’ve ripped my pants just a few occasions — and early within the rounds.”)

The shot went significantly better.

“It was most likely a pair inches beneath the water,” Horschel mentioned, including, “I knew there was a complete bunch of inexperienced behind me, so so long as I hit it exhausting sufficient, it could come out.”

It did, lifting up onto the inexperienced and previous the pin to arrange a two-putt, and Horschel in the end made par.

“It was an unbelievable golf shot,” Mickelson mentioned later. “That’s not straightforward. Typically that factor comes out type of blah. I’m curious how he hit that.”

Then got here Sunday, when Horschel’s tee shot landed within the water.

A lot as Horschel followers may hope, we do not make this up.

Off got here the footwear.

His restoration shot managed to depart the water however headed straight right into a rock-strewn slope. His third shot went just a few inches. Eventually chopping his losses, he took a drop, solely to see what was technically his fifth stroke wind up within the gallery. Horschel’s sixth put him onto the inexperienced, the place he putted nicely.

However it was very a lot a depressing displaying on the outlet: eight strokes — good for a triple-bogey that moved him to 6 over par for the match. At the very least, although, he didn’t rip his pants.

The early hours of the final round had a more subdued atmosphere.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

The ambiance as the primary eight or 10 pairings of golfers tee off within the ultimate spherical of the Masters is at all times a bit peculiar. The rivals are, in concept, vying for the match title, however in actuality they’re too far behind to have a shot and most are attempting play shortly (and nicely) to allow them to be executed in time to look at the true present when the match leaders tee off at about 2:40 p.m. Japanese time.

Normally, there are about 40,000 followers on the Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership grounds to look at the primary teams play and the gang is worked up for the ultimate spherical to begin, which provides even mundane pictures by gamers in forty ninth place some import.

However at this yr’s Masters, there are most likely fewer than 10,000 followers allowed on the property, which makes visitors to the golf course a breeze. That has meant that the early crowds for the ultimate spherical have been skinny.

The early teams of gamers are making their manner round Augusta Nationwide with a following that extra carefully resembles the final day of a neighborhood membership championship than essentially the most celebrated golf match on the earth. At midday right this moment, as Bryson DeChambeau walked to the fifth inexperienced, a pair spectators have been having a dialog with him from 40 yards away — and each events had no bother listening to one another.

Solely on the 2021 Masters.

Will Zalatoris will start this afternoon 7 under par, tied for second in the tournament.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

Two gamers making their debuts on the Masters are within the prime 10. Get excited — however not too excited.

Will Zalatoris, who’s seven beneath par for the match, completed Saturday’s spherical in a tie for second. He tees off at 2:20 p.m. Japanese time. And Robert MacIntyre, at two beneath and teeing off at 2 p.m., was amongst these standing in tenth place on Sunday morning. If both of them can prevail, a mighty ask provided that Hideki Matsuyama is at 11 beneath, the Masters could have a first-time participant as its champion, ending a drought that has lasted since Fuzzy Zoeller managed the feat in 1979.

“I’m right here as a result of I obtained right here on benefit, and I’m right here to win a golf match,” MacIntyre, a 24-year-old participant from Scotland who certified for the Masters due to his world rating. “If I wasn’t attempting to win this golf match, I’d be sitting at house with my toes up watching it. I’ve ready for the final two years or the final yr, my purpose was prime 50 with the intention to get on this golf match as a result of I like watching it a lot. I’m right here now, and I’m attempting to win it.”

Newcomers have made severe runs towards the inexperienced jacket up to now. Simply in November, as an example, Sungjae Im positioned second within the match, and C.T. Pan completed in a tie for seventh. Abraham Ancer, who entered the ultimate spherical tied with Im for the runner-up slot, was one of many thirteenth place finishers.

However Zoeller is the one trendy exception to the seeming rule that newcomers should fade on a course that rewards expertise. Simply two different males have gained the Masters of their debuts: Horton Smith in 1934, when Augusta Nationwide first held the match, and Gene Sarazen adopted him in 1935.

Zalatoris acknowledged that the course may very well be intimidating. However, he mentioned, “The truth that I wished to be right here my whole life really virtually frees me up.”

A 78-minute rain delay on Saturday slowed the greens down.
Credit score…Charlie Riedel/Related Press

Let’s run via the assessments of the greens — in addition to the customary prognosis of “quick and agency” — that we’ve heard over the past week round Augusta Nationwide.

“Fiery,” Adam Scott declared. “Very completely different from those in November,” mentioned C.T. Pan. “Pure,” Kevin Kisner mentioned.

“If it stays dry, it’ll be as tough because the course has performed in an extended, very long time, and that’s what I believe we have to have,” Fred {Couples} mentioned early within the week.

{Couples}, the 1992 champion, largely obtained his want. However now it has rained — a fast system that compelled a delay through the third spherical on Saturday. (Hideki Matsuyama spent the time, he mentioned, in his automotive taking part in video games on his cellphone. He completed the day at 11 beneath par on the week, so perhaps there’s a lesson there.)

Just about nobody is anticipating the greens to be anyplace close to as delicate as they have been in November, when Dustin Johnson gained the match with a file 20 beneath. The greens, although, is likely to be just a bit much less glass-like, maybe inviting fewer debacles like Bernd Wiesberger’s eagle putt on No. 15 that rolled all the best way into the water.

Gamers have spent the match each speaking in regards to the perils of the greens and celebrating them.

“It’s arrange good to establish type of the most effective participant, and the fellows which can be putting it nicely are up on the leaderboard, the fellows which can be placing it nicely,” Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner, mentioned on Saturday. “And I believe it’s very reasonable as a result of we’re making divots, the balls are stopping. It’s not just like the ’90s the place we weren’t, however you need to have high quality pictures. You’ve obtained to hit angles into the pins. You’ve obtained to be good.”

Mickelson, who had urged simply days earlier that Augusta Nationwide’s greens had been too forgiving lately, declared the course “completely executed.”

“It punishes you — prefer it did me the primary couple of days — if you make errors or don’t put it in the suitable spot or hit poor chips,” he mentioned. “I like seeing it like this as a result of you possibly can rating low, however you additionally must respect it.”

Hideki Matsuyama made the most of the rain delay on Saturday.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

When the 2020 Masters, delayed by coronavirus pandemic, was performed final November, the course was not in its common springtime form, as Invoice Pennington and Alan Blinder reported. The golfers ran amok, and Dustin Johnson gained with a rating of 20 beneath par, the most important margin of victory within the historical past of the match, with 43 gamers ending beneath par.

What a distinction a season makes. Right here’s what occurred within the first three rounds this week:

On Thursday, the course had its manner with the sector, with solely 11 golfers ending beneath par. Justin Rose was an outlier, capturing a seven-under-par 65, and led after the primary spherical. Solely Rose, Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama shot beneath 70.

On Friday, the fan favourite Jordan Spieth, who has been waging a gradual comeback and gained his first match since 2017 the earlier week on the Texas Valero Open, turned in a wonderful spherical, a four-under-par 68. He was simply two strokes behind Rose, the second-round chief. In a little bit of a shock, Johnson, the defending champion, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy all didn’t make the minimize.

A 78-minute rain delay arrange a exceptional run up the leaderboard by Matsuyama. The 29-year-old Japanese star shot 65 to enter Sunday’s ultimate spherical 11 beneath par. 4 golfers have been tied for second: Rose, Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman and the Masters rookie Will Zalatoris.

Hideki Matsuyama lining up a putt on Saturday. He led after three rounds.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

Protection of the Masters Match is break up throughout a lot of tv networks, streaming platforms and web sites, making it complicated to know watch. The excellent news is that there are a variety of viewing choices, a few of them free, for golf followers.

Right here is how one can catch Sunday’s ultimate spherical.

The normal tv protection of the match’s ultimate spherical, which can culminate with someone donning a inexperienced jacket, will be seen on CBS from 2 to 7 p.m. Japanese time. That protection shall be simulcast within the CBS Sports activities app and on the Paramount+ streaming service.

Teams start teeing off within the morning, nonetheless, and you can begin watching the Masters along with your espresso. On the Masters livestream there are 4 completely different “channels” to look at:

These choices all start and finish at completely different occasions, relying on when the primary golfers attain the completely different holes, however the featured teams channel kicks issues off at 10:25 a.m. Japanese. The featured teams are Paul Casey and Billy Horschel (10:30 a.m.), Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English (11 a.m.), Justin Spieth and Brian Harman (2:10 p.m.) and Justin Rose and Marc Leishman (2:30 p.m.).

You possibly can watch the Masters livestream in a lot of completely different locations. ESPN+, Paramount+, the CBS Sports activities app, and all carry it.

In case you are extra eager about evaluation from speaking heads and photographs of golfers working towards earlier than their tee occasions, the Golf Channel is stay from the Masters each earlier than and after the principle protection on CBS. If you happen to miss the ultimate spherical, encore protection begins virtually instantly, at 8 p.m. Japanese on the CBS Sports activities Community.

A view of the 16th green at August National Golf Club on Thursday.
Credit score…Doug Mills/The New York Instances

The Masters Match is likely one of the South’s grandest spring traditions. Doug Mills, a New York Instances workers photographer, has been capturing the ambiance all week:

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