World No 1 Dustin Johnson is on track for his maiden Masters victory and second Major title as he takes a commanding four-shot lead into the final round at Augusta National.
The in-form American played the front nine in five-under-par with an eagle and three birdies and picked up two more shots coming home for a flawless third round of seven-under-par 65. At 16-under-par after 54 holes, Johnson is well-placed to better the 72-hole scoring record of 18-under jointly held by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.
In joint second place on 12-under-par are Korea’s Sungjae Im (68), Mexico’s Abraham Ancer (69) and Australia’s Cameron Smith. South African Dylan Frittelli shot an excellent third round 67 to lie fifth on 11-under-par, one shot ahead of American star Justin Thomas (71).
World No 2 Jon Rahm of Spain is a shot further back on nine-under-par after struggling to an even-par 72, tied with 2018 champion Patrick Reed of the USA (71) and Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz (69).
With the fabled Augusta National course playing easier with soft and wet conditions in its unfamiliar November slot, scoring has been extraordinarily low since the tournament started.
While aware of his chance to set a new scoring record, Johnson is focused on winning his first Green jacket.
“I feel like I’m swinging well and I’ve got a lot of confidence in what I’m doing,” he said. “There are a lot of really good players right around me. I’m going to have play aggressive when I can and play smart when I can’t.”
Defending champion Woods, in search of a sixth Green Jacket and 16th Major, is well off the pace on five-under-par after a third round 72.
Pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau meanwhile made the halfway cut of even-par on the button after finishing his second round on Saturday morning with a 74, due largely to a triple bogey at the third hole when he lost his ball in the rough off the tee. He followed up with a much improved third round 69 and lies in T29 place on three-under-par.
Im will play in the final group on Sunday alongside Johnson and Presidents Cup International teammate Ancer. No Asian golfer has won the Masters, with Korea’s KJ Choi coming closest with a third place finish in 2004.
“My game is like a straight ball and a baby fade. Speaking to KJ who used to have a lot of success out here, he said my type of shot-making will be very suitable at Augusta National,” said Im, who won his first PGA Tour title at The Honda Classic in March.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan of Chinese Taipei, who began the third round one off the lead, shot 72 and 74 respectively to fall off the pace in T10 (-8) and T15 (-6).
Korea’s Si Woo Kim carded a 73 to lie joint 36th on two-under-par while Thai debutante Jazz Janewattananond shot 75 to fall back to T44 position on one-under-par alongside another Korean, Sung Kang (71).
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