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Scottie Scheffler leads Masters by 1 shot; Tiger Woods hits career-worst 82

Apr 13, 2024, 5:26 PM

Scottie Scheffler...

Scottie Scheffler celebrates after an eagle on the 13th hole during third round at the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler made one last birdie and let out one big exhale Saturday on a wild day of charges and collapses at the Masters, giving him a 1-under 71 and a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Collin Morikawa.

Scheffler began by chipping in for birdie from across the first green. He finished with an 8-foot birdie putt that caught just enough of the right side of the cup.

Everything in between was bonkers, right to the very end. Bryson DeChambeau drove into the right trees on the 18th, pitched out to the fairway and then holed out from 77 yards for a most unlikely birdie that might have salvaged his chances.

Six players had at least a tie for the lead at one point.

There was a five-way tie for the lead on back nine. Morikawa looked to break out of the tie when he had a long eagle putt on the par-5 13th. He three-putted for par, and then the other four players all made bogey.

Max Homa has gone 32 holes without a birdie and he was only two behind. Xander Schauffele has gone 25 holes without a bogey, and that goes a long way. He was five back.

Augusta National didn’t need a ferocious wind to be wildly entertaining. The course was tough as ever, with a wind that would have felt scary if not for the day before.

Scheffler was at 7-under 209 as he goes for a second Masters green jacket and tries to extend a dominant stretch that includes two wins on tough courses and a runner-up finish in his last three tournaments.

“It’s nice to have that experience, but going into tomorrow, that’s really all that it is,” he said. “And I can reflect on some of that stuff from that round, and this is a position I’m very familiar with. I’m excited for the challenge of going and trying to win the golf tournament tomorrow.”

Morikawa made two tough pars to finish off a 69, making him the only player to break par all three days at this Masters. Not bad for a someone who only found a swing key on Monday, switched putters after the first round and has had a top 10 since the first week of the year.

“If you asked me at the beginning of the week I’d be one back heading into Sunday, I would have taken that any time,” Morikawa said. “You give yourself a chance with 18 holes left, that’s all you can really do.”

Another shot back was Homa (73), whose last birdie was on the fourth hole of the second round. He has made 32 pars in his last 36 holes.

Eight players were separated by five shots going into the final round, where the greens are likely to be even faster, crispier and more frightening.

Tiger Woods was not among them. Neither was Rory McIlroy.

Woods, having made his Masters record 24th consecutive cut on Friday, started the third round seven shots out of the lead and hopeful of at least making his massive following think there might be more magic left in that battered 48-year-old body.

Instead, Woods posted his highest round in three decades playing the majors. He shot an 82, a career-worst round in a major and the third time he has failed to break 80 in a major, first since the 2015 U.S. Open.

“Just hit the ball in all the places that I know I shouldn’t hit it,” Woods said.

McIlroy came to the Masters thinking this might be the year he finally got the last leg of the career Grand Slam. All he could muster was a 71 that left him 10 shots behind with 20 players in front of him.

There were no shortage of challengers.

Ludvig Aberg, the rising Swedish star playing in his first major, was among those who had a brief share of the lead until missing a pair of short par putts on the back nine. He still managed a 70 and was only three shots behind.

Another newcomer to the Masters, Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark, had the lead to himself with three straight birdies around the turn. He celebrated that good fortunate by running off five straight bogeys, putting the ball in the water on both par 5s.

And then there was DeChambeau, who started the third round tied with Scheffler and Homa.

DeChambeau kept making enough birdies to hang around and was only one shot behind until he decided to go for the green from the trees on the par-5 15th. He went well right toward the 17th fairway — the second time in as many days he played a par 5 from two holes — only this one didn’t work out so well.

He chunked his wedge and watched it tumble into the pond. He took a penalty drop, pitched on and two-putted for double bogey. And then he three-putted for bogey on the 16th. And right when it appeared to be falling apart, he made his surprise birdie to limit the damage to 75. He was four shots behind.

Scheffler didn’t escape the craziness. He reached 8 under with a 30-foot birdie putt on the third hole and was still seemingly in control until his approach to the 10th took a hard hop over the green and into the bushes. He looked to escape with bogey until missing a 30-inch putt. Then, he hit an average chip and missed an 8-foot par putt on the 11th.

“All of a sudden I’m probably going from in the lead to a few out of the lead and then … you know, things happen pretty fast out there,” Scheffler said.

He saved par on the 12th with a 7-foot putt — as important as any he made — and showed rare emotion when he holed a 30-foot eagle putt on the 13th.

“C’mon, baby!” he yelled when the putt dropped.

“Things got a little dicey in the middle,” Scheffler said. “On No. 10, I hit what I thought was a decent shot 8 feet from the hole and it wound up in the bushes. I did a good job of staying patient.”

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