10 Apr 2022 | Professional golf |

Day 3 wrap of Aussies at The Masters

by PGA of Australia

Aussies at The Masters round three.

By Tony Webeck

Cameron Smith is exactly where he needs to be to play his way into history as just the second Australian to win The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Smith’s round of four-under 68 was the best of Saturday’s third round and will see the 28-year-old Queenslander paired with world No.1 Scottie Scheffler in the last group from 4.40am AEST.

Three shots back through 54 holes, Smith is the first Australian to play in the final group at Augusta National since Stuart Appleby in 2007 and will be hoping to add his name to the 25 of the past 30 Masters champions who have come from the final group.

Close mate Marc Leishman (71) joined Smith as one of only nine players to break par in the third round and will tee off 90 minutes earlier while Min Woo Lee advanced his position on the leaderboard on debut with a round of 72.

Cameron Smith – 68, 2nd (-6)

Six shots back at the start of the third round, Smith began chipping away at the lead at the par-5 second but it was a run through the middle of the round reminiscent to that of the first round that re-ignited his green jacket aspirations. Starting with a two from 15 feet at the par-3 sixth, the 28-year-old had five birdies in the space of 10 holes to head to the 16th tee just three strokes off the lead. He would drop a shot there but Scottie Scheffler’s own bogeys at 14, 15 and 18 will see the two players in the final group separated by just three shots at the start of Sunday’s final round.

Key stat: 86 per cent fairways hit (field 72 per cent)

What he said: “It was really tough out there today. I think I did a good job of just staying within myself, staying patient with the course. Hitting lots of quality iron shots. Today the putts went in as well. Controlling distance into the green today was pretty tough. Plenty of crosswinds. So many uneven lies around here as well. Just so many things to really think about into the green. Typically here on Sunday, especially the back nine, you can use plenty of greens to your advantage and have plenty of birdie opportunities. Just stay aggressive into the greens and just keep hitting quality shots.”

Marc Leishman – 71, T18 (+3)

One of only seven players to break par on Saturday, Warrnambool’s favourite son would have felt right at home in temperatures that didn’t get into double digits. His four birdies on Saturday were twice as many as he had across the first two rounds, none better than his holed bunker shot at the par-3 12th. He very nearly chipped in for eagles at both the par-5 second and eighth holes – making birdie at both – with his fourth birdie coming courtesy of a brilliant approach into 11 feet at the par-4 14th.

Key stat: 72 per cent GIR (field 55 per cent)

What he said: “It was tough, cold. The greens quickened up overnight back to, I would say, Masters speed. Couple of three-putts, but putting was pretty difficult out there with the wind. I’m a lot happier today standing here than I was the last two afternoons after missing a lot of putts. I think 1-under should jump up a few spots throughout the day. It’s not getting any warmer or the wind’s not dropping. Having played this morning, I’m pretty happy to say that.”

Min Woo Lee – 72, T26 (+4)

Underlined what is fast becoming an impressive Masters debut with his best round of the week in cold and difficult conditions. After five straight pars used the slope superbly at the par-3 sixth to convert a birdie chance from seven feet and made a putt from 13 feet at nine to make the turn in one-under. He played a gorgeous punch shot through the pine trees to just short of the 11th green but was unable to get up and down, missing the putt from nine feet on the left edge to fall back to four-over. A 33-foot birdie putt from the fringe at 12 ensured he didn’t stay there for long, the 23-year-old greeting it with a call of “Come on!” as it fell into the cup.

Key stat: 1.44 putts per hole

What he said: “It was a bit of a shock obviously. Weather hasn’t been this cold and then all off sudden to turns into a Scottish type of weather. It was firm. There are just greens out there that look completely different, kind of brown and toasty. The putt on 15 down the hill, you’ve got like 20 feet and you’ve literally got to hit a two-footer. We did, I hit it four feet past, and there are holes out there that are crazy quick. Then with the cold element it’s going to be a pretty tough course.”

Cam Davis – 79, 51 (+11)

Did the bulk of the damage to his scorecard on the front nine, showing tremendous grit to grind out a run of seven consecutive pars on his inward nine. Dropped a shot with a three-putt at the opening hole but responded with a birdie from 11 feet at the par-5 second. The good vibes would be gone one hole later though when he missed a par putt from four feet at the third and then missed the one coming back for a four-putt double bogey. There were further bogeys at five, seven, nine, 10 and 18, unable to get up and down from the left of the 18th green.

Key stat: 39 per cent GIR (field 55 per cent)

What he said: “There’s not many other words for it other than just really tough. You’ve got to play such good golf around this place just to keep the ball on the greens let alone in the right spots. Game was a little bit off today, and the wind kind of made it worse and worse for me really. I just couldn’t get anything going. Every time I did make a good swing, I felt like I misread the wind and it did something crazy up in the air. While you’re back in the fairway just thinking what am I supposed to do? I played some decent golf around the back nine to be honest. I had a couple of birdies that I left out there on the par-5s, but for the most part, I did start to play some solid golf. One more round around Augusta and The Masters, it’s not too bad.”

Adam Scott – 80, 52 (+12)

Missed the first green from the left side of the fairway and failed to get up-and-down for par, setting the tone for what would the first time Scott failed to break 80 at The Masters since Round 1, 2004. The 41-year-old had four three-putts in the bitterly cold conditions, racking up eight bogeys and a double at the par-4 17th to fall to the very bottom of the leaderboard. Highlight of Scott’s third round was a 21-foot putt for birdie at the par-4 10th, the site of where he clinched the 2013 Masters.

Key stat: 44 per cent GIR (field 55 per cent)

What he said: “It was pretty fresh out there today. It’s like yesterday, but the ball’s going a fair bit shorter because it’s cold. So it’s just making the course play as long as it possibly can at the moment. I certainly made it look difficult. I think the guy who hits a lot of greens today will probably have the best score. Provided he’s not putting from too much above the hole, but sometimes you can’t avoid that out here, and you just have to do the best you can when you are above the hole.”

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