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Scottie Scheffler is three shots ahead of Cameron Smith with Sungjae Im two strokes further back after round three at Augusta National; watch live coverage from the final round of The Masters exclusively live on Sky Sports Golf from 6:30pm on Sunday
Last Updated: 10/04/22 4:25pm
Scottie Scheffler’s back-nine struggles in the third round of The Masters have created a three-horse race for the Green Jacket, according to Dame Laura Davies.
The world No 1 began the penultimate round with a five-shot advantage and stretched it to six during an imperious front-nine display, before stuttering to allow Cameron Smith to close the gap to three shots ahead of Sunday’s final round, which is live on Sky Sports Golf.
While Scheffler’s one-under-par 71 was still one of the best rounds of the day as the course remained difficult in windy conditions at Augusta National, the American’s late struggles also allowed Sungjae Im to get within five shots.
Speaking after the round, Sky Sports analysts Dame Laura Davies and Butch Harmon both felt that Scheffler had opened the door to a potentially thrilling finale.
“It changed with just a couple of poor putts really and then 18,” Davies said. “It looked like he was just going to stretch away, he seemed completely unflappable, he was hitting great drives, he was hitting his irons where he needed to.
“But it’s never easy, is it? It’s never easy to get a big enough lead. He’s brought a couple of players back into it. I still think it’s a three-horse race with Smith and Im.”
Harmon added: “I think the two (Smith and Im) still have a chance. They’ve got to shoot something low.
“Will Scottie continue on his way or is this a little bit of what we’re going to see tomorrow with him struggling a little? It’s still his to win, but it’s also his to lose.”
Scheffler: Bogey at 18 felt like a par
Things could have been even worse for Scheffler, as he rescued a bogey at the 18th after a wayward tee shot forced him to take a penalty drop.
The 25-year-old, who is seeking his first major title, struck a brilliant third shot after taking the drop to set up the bogey.
“You hate bogeying the last hole, but the way I bogeyed it, it for sure felt like a par,” Scheffler said.
“Definitely a good finish to the day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Despite the late wobble, Scheffler insisted that he is enjoying the experience.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” he said. “I had a lot of fun out there. I talked about at the beginning of the week that being in contention is what’s fun, so being in the lead is fun.
“When I’m in the lead, I’m trying to stay in the lead and not really overthink things – just go out there and play golf.
Smith: Players win has given me the right to be confident
While world No 6 Smith is also seeking his first major title, the Australian has won the next best thing, and very recently.
Smith triumphed at The Players Championship in Florida last month and believes that victory has “earned” him the right to carry plenty of confidence into the final round at Augusta.
“It just means I can get it done I guess when I’m up against the best guys in the world,” Smith said after shooting a four-under-par 68 for the lowest round of the day.
“It’s a good feeling to have. It’s earned. It’s not given to you.
“So I’m going to have to go out there tomorrow and play really good golf again, probably similar to today. Hopefully everything just falls into place.”
Where will The Masters be won on Sunday?
The Masters is famed, among many reasons, for the inevitable twists and turns that come as the tournament is decided on Sunday afternoon.
Smith laid out a pretty clear game-plan for how he will attempt to close the gap on Scheffler.
“I think the front nine out here, it can get away from you pretty quick,” he said. “I think you have to stay really patient through the front.”
“There is a couple of birdie opportunities, but I think the back nine tomorrow is obviously where the tournament will be decided. Typically, there’s plenty of pins in bowls, and, yeah, you can give yourself plenty of looks if you’re hitting it good.”
Harmon’s advice to Scheffler is that the world No 1 must stay on the front foot, and not just seek to defend his lead.
“You have to go out and play golf,” Harmon said. “We know around this golf course that three shots can go in one hole.
“There’s a lot of birdies out there, there’s a lot of wrecks out there.
The one thing I like about Scottie Scheffler – yes, he is the No 1 player in the world – he just plays within himself. He’s still the man to beat, there’s no doubt about that.”
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