Masters 2024: Scottie Scheffler leads as Tiger Woods posts worst round at Augusta National

American world number one Scottie Scheffler hung on to the Masters lead on an eventful third day where Tiger Woods shot his worst score at a major.

 

Scheffler, who is the hottest favourite at Augusta since Woods in his 2000s pomp, shot a one-under 71 to move seven under and one clear of Collin Morikawa.

 

Morikawa carded a 69 for six under, with Max Homa (73) next on five under.

 

Bryson DeChambeau, who jointly led overnight, hit a 75 and is three under, while Woods is 11 over after an 82.

 

DeChambeau – a home hope like Scheffler, Morikawa and Homa – reignited his bid by holing out from the 18th fairway for a birdie on what had been a chastening day at Augusta National.

 

The 30-year-old moved back up to fifth on the leaderboard, a shot behind Swedish debutant Ludvig Aberg, who carded 70 after two bogeys in the final four holes.

 

Media caption,

 

Masters 2024: Ludvig Aberg, Scottie Scheffler & Shane Lowry in day three’s best shots

 

Aberg, 24, only turned professional 10 months ago and, like his European Ryder Cup team-mate Nicolai Hojgaard, is aiming to become the first man to win the Masters on his debut in a major.

 

Denmark’s Hojgaard briefly led on Saturday but saw his card wrecked by five successive bogeys on the back half, ending with a 74 which left him two under.

 

England’s Tommy Fleetwood, on one under after a 72, heads what has been a somewhat underwhelming challenge so far by home golfers.

 

 

DeChambeau hits incredible 77-yard birdie at 18th

 

The moment of magic produced by DeChambeau, playing in the final pair alongside fellow overnight leader Homa, was the last twist on a slow burner of a day at Augusta.

 

For a long period, as the leading players were approaching the turn, there was little sign of the drama about to unfold.

 

With DeChambeau making an early bogey, Scheffler escaped punishment for early errors to move into the outright lead ahead of Homa – who had 17 pars around a solitary bogey on the 12th.

 

Chipping in for birdie on the first was the perfect start for the 2022 champion and he added another birdie with a monster putt on the third after being allowed a free drop following a wild drive.

 

At that point it seemed Scheffler, who won two of his three previous tournaments, would move clear of the field.

 

However, more mistakes – a double bogey on 10 after missing a two-foot putt, followed by a bogey on 11 – was a curveball which allowed his playing partner Hojgaard to take over at the top.

 

Hojgaard had never even played in a major, let alone led one, until three straight birdies around the turn completely changed the picture.

 

But it proved to be a brief lead. As Hojgaard faltered, Scheffler rallied with an eagle on 13 and another birdie on 15.

 

A bogey on 17 dropped Scheffler alongside Morikawa, before a birdie on the last re-established the 27-year-old’s lead as he ultimately continued his majestic form.

 

Morikawa, the 2021 Open champion, had made a fast start with three birdies on the opening three holes and finished with 10 straight pars while the chaos was unfolding around him.

 

The US Ryder Cup team-mates will be out in Sunday’s final pairing, teeing off at 19:35 BST.

 

 

Tiger Woods has only scored 80 or more on three occasions at a major

 

Having made the cut for a record 24th consecutive year, Woods was one over at the halfway stage and, as we have seen so many times over the years, talked bullishly about his chances at the weekend.

 

The five-time Masters champion, aiming to match Jack Nicklaus’ long-standing record of victories, said after round two that he was “right there”.

 

However, that proved overly optimistic as he tumbled down the leaderboard.

 

The 48-year-old American struggled to find fairways – hitting only five of 14 – and that led to only the third time he had scored 80 or over at a major.

 

Successive double bogeys on seven and eight did the most damage, with Woods adding six more bogeys on the back half.

 

Woods had barely played coming into the Masters as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in a car crash in February 2021.

 

The 15-time major champion has limited his schedule following the life-threatening crash which led to a number of operations, including on his legs and ankle.

 

Given his lack of competitive action, even making the weekend on one of the most punishing courses in the sport was a credible achievement.

 

The long-time former world number one looked increasing short of energy on Saturday.

 

Asked what he has learned about his game, Woods laughed and said: “It’s rusty. I just haven’t played golf, especially competitively.”

 

McIlroy and Rahm left with too much to do

 

Every time Rory McIlroy returns to the Masters, there is an extra weight of history which has appeared to become a burden at times over the past 10 years.

 

McIlroy won four majors between 2011 and 2014 – twice at the US PGA Championship, plus The Open and US Open.

 

It leaves the Masters as the one he needs to become only the sixth man to complete a career grand slam.

 

This week, the 34-year-old Northern Irishman’s game this week has not been at the levels needed to finally win at Augusta.

 

He carded a one-under 71 on Saturday, leaving him three over and, yet again, too far back to mount a serious challenge on Sunday.

 

But the world number two says his mindset will be to go out and “give it a go”.

 

“If the conditions stay the same and you pick up four, five six shots you will get up the leaderboard. I will try to finish the week on a positive note,” said McIlroy, who has earned six top-10 finishes in his pursuit of a place in golfing history.

 

Defending champion Jon Rahm scraped into the weekend after only beating the cut by a shot, but was also unable to shoot the low score he needed to chase down the leaders.

 

An uneventful round saw the 29-year-old Spaniard bogey the seventh before a birdie on the 17th ensured he signed for a level-par 72, leaving him five over for the tournament.

 

He said that not challenging for the title on Sunday was a “sour feeling”.

 

“Worse case I’ll be a part of the ceremony,” added the LIV Golf player, who will put the Green Jacket on the eventual champion as tradition dictates.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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