We look at the main talking points ahead of the final round as Hideki Matsuyama looks to become the first Asian to win the Masters
1 Is a four-shot lead enough?
We love to talk about Rory McIlroy at Augusta and he’s the name that comes screaming at us when someone goes into the final round of the Masters when leading by four. Hideki Matsuyama has won 14 times around the world, including five on the PGA Tour. Two of those have been WGCs, in Shanghai he led by three and wound up winning by seven. The following year at Firestone he was two back and closed it out with a 61. Who knows what’s going to transpire but there’s more than enough pedigree there.
2 How do you follow up a 65?
Like Rose on day one the hardest part might be trying to get fizzed up after an incredible round of golf. Matsuyama has just played his last seven holes in six under, he’s just played the only bogey-free round of the tournament and he hasn’t put a foot wrong. The eagle at 15 was ridiculous enough but the up-and-down at 18 was off the charts. Everything he touched turned to gold, now he’s got to do it all again, albeit with four shots to play with.
3 Can a debutant win?
We all know the one about Fuzzy Zoeller and winning on his first attempt in 1979. Now he have Will Zalatoris who grew up with Jordan Spieth, turned pro in 2018 and is already in the top 50 in the world. He’s said he’s stupid enough to think he can win here, he’s one big round from breaking his PGA Tour duck in the most sensational of style. There’s not much of him but he’s very cool and it will be fascinating to see how he deals with a major Sunday.
4 Is Schauffele a Masters champion in waiting?
Xander Schauffele has the benefit of having been here before which counts for plenty at Augusta. In 2019, Tiger’s year, he shared the lead coming down the back end of the tournament. There were five birdies in seven holes in the middle of it all, one more in the last four and he might have forced a play-off. Schauffele has played in 14 majors, he’s finished in the top 10 in half of them.
5 What about Rose?
The 40-year-old only gave up the lead for the first time at the start of the back nine. It was all a bit ragged after that but it also included some of the best up-and-downs; the one at the 11th was out of this world, and there were two more to finish with. Rose’s putter gained him close to 10 shots in the first round, it might well prove to be the crucial club on Sunday.
6 Are we ready for another Aussie winner?
Marc Leishman’s reaction was one of the greatest in Masters history when Adam Scott made the putt on 18 to get into the play-off in 2013. Leishman is class personified, both on and off the course, and he would be a very welcome winner. Things didn’t work out in the Open play-off in 2015, before that he had just shot 64-66.
7 Can Spieth go back to back?
Even out of form you would be foolish to write off Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion is very much back in form and going for two wins in two weeks. Saturday was a strange one for him as nothing really got going, the putts are yet to drop and he’s yet to click properly into gear, maybe he’s saving his best for last on Sunday?
8 What score wins it?
You would have to think that a 70 would be good enough for Matsuyama which would leave him at -13. That would leave the quartet on -7 needing a 66 to tie. The last time single figures was good enough was Sergio Garcia in 2017, much of this depends on how much the sub-air is going to be blasting out overnight and how quick they get the greens.
9 How far down do we go?
The only other player within five is Canada’s Corey Conners. You’d probably think that he’s had his day in the sun with his hole-in-one at the 6th but his Saturday could have been very special had it not been for three bogeys too. He was 10th here in November and he would have to do something pretty special to emulate his countryman Mike Weir in 2003.
10 The Sunday at the Masters is never straightforward, is it?
Here more than anywhere you would never just mentally hand someone the Green Jacket, particularly their first. You very rarely get mundane final rounds and funny things happen. We’ve seen Greg Norman on the range this week, he’s here working for a radio station rather than as a former champion. He knows this more than anyone.