The Masters: Scheffler maintains lead going into…


AS IT STANDS -9 Scheffler; -6 Smith; -4 Im; -2 Lowry, Schwartzel; -1 Thomas, Conners; E Willett. SELECTED OTHERS +1 McIlroy, Morikawa, Johnson; +6 MacIntyre; +7 Rahm, Woods.

Eighteen holes, 7,510 yards and a chasing pack comprising many of the game’s top players are all that stand between Scottie Scheffler and a maiden major victory.

The world No.1 withstood a late wobble on Saturday to card a one-under 81 and take a three-shot lead into the final round of The Masters.

Holding a record-equalling five-shot lead entering day three at Augusta National, Scheffler looked to be in complete control of the tournament when birdies at the second and third holes saw him establish a six-shot advantage.

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As his closest challengers failed to mount a sustained challenge in unseasonably cold and blustery conditions, Scheffler stretched his lead to seven by the time he reached the turn.

You could have excused the tailor for getting to work on altering the Green Jacket to fit the 25-year-old’s measurements.

This, though, is The Masters. No lead is safe until all 72 holes have been played, and so it proved for Scheffler as he made for home.

Bogeys at 12, 14 and 15 briefly saw his led cut to two. He bounced
back with a birdie at 17 only to hand it right back again with a bogey
on 18 after a wayward drive.

Signs of nerves? If so, that’s
perfectly understandable. He might be the hottest player on the world
right now, with three wins in his last five starts. He might be top of the
world rankings.

But winning major championships is hard.

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Three-shot lead or not, Scheffler will know he’s only three-quarters of the way there, and that this tournament has a habit of producing final day drama on a
scale quite unlike any other event.

He will also be aware of the quality of the players hunting him down.

Nearest challenger Cam Smith claimed The PLAYERS Championship a month ago, bursting through the pack on the final day to land the biggest win of his career. Two shots further adrift is South Korea’s Sungjae Im, surely a major champion in waiting. Then there’s Shane Lowry, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Thomas, major champions all.

No, this tournament is a long way from being done.

“For me, this is a lot more fun than a lot of the starts that I’ve had in major championships, especially around this golf course,” said Scheffler.

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“I had a lot of fun out there. I talked about at the beginning of the week that being in contention is what’s fun, so being in the lead is fun. When I’m in the lead, I’m trying to stay in the lead and not really overthink things; just go out there and play golf.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

As should we all. One of the great days on the sporting calendar is upon us.

Sit back, relax and enjoy.

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