Apr 11th, 2021
The Masters Day 3: Matsuyama takes control
The man from Japan takes full advantage of a rain-soaked Augusta
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
It was the week's first bogey-free round and put Matsuyama on eleven-under-par four ahead of the pack. Overnight leader Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman and Will Zalatoris sit four shots back in joint second.
Canada's Corey Conners was round in a four-under 68, which included an ace at the tricky par three 6th hole sits a shot further back on six-under. Jordan Speith, had a surprisingly lacklustre day could only muster a level par 72 to stay put on five-under and in sole ownership of seventh.
Justin Rose got off to a fast start with birdies at his first two holes, putting daylight between him and the field. However, dropped shots at both the 4th and 5th holes brought the Englishman back to the pack and he would ultimately have to settle for a level-par round for the second day running.
"It was a tricky day, when the storm was approaching it was really windy," said Rose.
"There was definitely some tricky moments out there. I had to work hard and after 12 holes I thought I was in a nice spot. Hideki hit the jets and I hit the brakes a bit, that was the difference."
The former US Open champion led by one when the hooter sounded to call the players and spectators off the course due to an approaching thunderstorm. When play resumed, it would be Matsuyama who took advantage of the easier conditions.
Matsuyama hit a great second shot to the 11th from underneath the pine tree branches to set up a birdie. A further birdie followed at the short twelfth and Matsuyama had joined Rose in the lead.
The man from Japan was not finished and after pars at the 13th and 14th holes, he unleashed an eagle, birdie, birdie run of holes to take charge of the event.
"Before the horn blew I didn't hit a very good drive but after the restart, I hit practically every shot exactly how I wanted to," said Matsuyama after picking up six shots in his last eight holes.
"It will be a new experience for me, being a leader going into the final round of a major. All I can do is relax, prepare well and do my best."
Masters debutant Zalatoris who is looking to be the first man since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win at the first attempt was round in 71 to sit alongside playing partner Rose in second place.
World No 2 Justin Thomas run at a second major title ran out of steam when he found Rae's Creek with his third shot to the 13th. The result was an ugly triple-bogey eight and a three-over round of 75.
Another Masters debutant, Scotland's Robert MacIntyre continued to impress with the young left-hander carding a two-under 70 for a second successive day. MacIntyre sits on two-under for the event nine back from Matsuyama.
"I'm happy enough," MacIntyre said.
"It was tough early on, the wind started getting up and I was stood on the 14th tee and there was stuff falling off the trees on me. But once the storm came through it calmed it down and you could get at it."