Scheffler takes Masters lead while Woods suffers nightmare fade

golf13 April 2024 21:07| © AFP

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler seized the lead after the front nine in Saturday's third round of the Masters, the same holes that brought a nightmare end to Tiger Woods's dream of a sixth green jacket.

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Scheffler, the 2022 Masters winner, began the round six-under par 138 and birdied two of the first three holes before a bogey at the fourth, but at 7-under was still the player to catch for the winner's record top prize of $3.6 million from a record $20 million purse.

Woods, however, played the worst nine holes of his 99-round Masters career over Augusta National's front nine, firing a six-over 42 with two double bogeys and three bogeys against a lone birdie to doom his longshot bid for a sixth crown.

Scheffler, the oddsmakers' darling, could join Woods as the only players to win the Masters twice while world No 1.

Scheffler holed out a 32-yard birdie chip at the first, the crowd roaring as the US star seized the lead, and birdied the third, pitching from left trees and sinking a 34-foot putt.

But he stumbled at the par-3 fourth, finding a greenside bunker and missing a nine-foot par putt, and missed a short birdie putt at the ninth to stay only one in front.

Three players shared second on 6-under – Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard and Americans Collin Morikawa and Max Homa.

Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 British Open champion, sank a 27-foot birdie putt at the first hole, blasted out of a bunker at the par-5 second and sinking a six-foot birdie putt then birdied from 11 feet at the third to leap among the leaders.

After missing a five-foot par putt to bogey the par-3 sixth he answered with a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 eighth.

Homa, chasing his first major title, opened with nine pars.

Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, made a bogey at three and a birdie at eight to reach 6-under, but a bogey at the ninth dropped him back to 5-under. He was among eight players from Saudi-backed LIV Golf who made the cut.

Hojgaard and Sweden's Ludvig Aberg, teammates on Europe's triumphant 2023 Ryder Cup squad, were trying to become the first rookie to win the green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, Aberg in his first major appearance.

Hojgaard followed a bogey-birdie start with back-to-back birdies to close the front nine.

Aberg birdied the second, fifth and ninth holes without a bogey to make his early charge.

A day after 15-time major winner Woods set a Masters record by making the cut for a 24th consecutive time and declared himself in contention from seven strokes adrift, Woods looked to be battling the course-walking issues he's had since suffering severe leg injuries in a 2021 car crash.

Woods made his first double-bogey of the week at the par-4 seventh, finding trees twice and a greenside bunker, then made his first career double-bogey at the par-5 eighth, the first double-bogey of the week at Augusta National's easiest hole of the event.

Another bogey at nine and Woods had made personal futility history at the Masters as well.


World No 2 Rory McIlroy, who had hoped to complete a career grand slam with a Masters victory, fired a one-under par 71 after a birdie-less 77 on Friday to stand on three-over 219 for 54 holes.

"Definitely hit the ball better, gave myself a lot of looks. Missed a few, but shooting something under par was a decent effort," McIlroy said.

"All I can do is come here and try my best. That's what I do every time I show up. Some years it's better than others. I've just got to keep showing up and try to do the right thing."

Third-ranked Jon Rahm, the defending champion from Spain, fired a 72 to stand on 221.

"Being a little lost and not being under control of what was going on makes it so much harder," Rahm said.