Australia’s Cameron Smith is three shots behind Masters leader Scottie Scheffler ahead of final round
Posted On April 10, 2022
Australia’s Cameron Smith will go into the final round of the Masters within striking distance of his first major title, trailing leader Scottie Scheffler by three shots at Augusta National.
The final pairing will see the two form golfers of the PGA Tour go head-to-head on the famous course, with Smith aiming to be the first since Adam Scott in 2013 to earn the right to wear the green jacket.
Smith will start the final day at six under, with Scheffler leading at nine under and South Korea’s Sungjae Im in third at four under.
A winner coming from outside that trio seems unlikely at this point.
For the second day running, the winds howled around Augusta National, causing havoc for players.
By round’s end, only seven players in the field remained under par for the tournament.
One of them was Smith, who was coming off a win in The Players Championship last month. He gave himself a chance for an even bigger win, defying the conditions to shoot the best round of the day, a four-under 68.
He was the only player to break 70 in round three.
It could have been even better, as the Queenslander missed a number of birdie putts.
Starting the day at two under, six back of Scheffler, Smith birdied the second but gave it back on the third.
Smith reeled off birdies at the short sixth and the par-five eighth to move to four under, then added birdies at the 10th, 13th and 15th.
At that point, he was only three behind Scheffler. But a bogey on 16 took some of his momentum away.
On the last, Smith received some luck, hitting the trees down the left before bouncing back onto the edge of the fairway.
The Australian smashed his second shot 230 metres to the green and then some, flying it over the back to leave a difficult up and down. He got it done, to finish on six under to set up an intriguing final day.
He finished the day trailing only the 25-year-old Scheffler, who has won three Tour titles since February this year — the Phoenix Open, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC Match Play.
Prior to this year, Scheffler finished in the top 10 at the US Open and British Opens in 2021. After three rounds at the Masters, he remained on track for a breakthrough major win.
After a three-under front nine of 33, including birdies at the second, third, sixth and eighth, Scheffler led by six shots and was threatening to run away with the title.
However, he found the back nine much tougher.
The Texan had bogeys on the 12th, 14th and 15th. He managed to recover with a birdie on the 17th, but then sent his tee shot into the trees on the last.
After taking a penalty drop, Scheffler held his nerve to crunch an iron shot just over the green, then got up and down for a five to preserve a three-shot buffer.
Charl Schwartzel lights up Augusta with hole out from 10th fairway
2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel was Scheffler’s playing partner.
He had some big highs and big lows before finishing the day at two under, seven shots behind the Texan.
Like Smith, he birdied the second and bogeyed the third to remain at three under.
The South African birdied the eighth, but his big move came at the 450-metre, par-four 10th.
Schwartzel found the middle of the fairway and hit a perfect approach that landed 4 metres or so beyond the flag and then spun back down the hill to roll into the hole for an eagle.
That put him at six under, five behind Scheffler.
But he struck trouble a few times on the final holes to finish one over for the day.
It seems certain that there will be a new champion, as last year’s winner Hideki Matsuyama slipped down the leaderboard with a five-over 77 to finish at two over for the tournament.
For Tiger Woods, it was a tough day. After two great rounds dealing with conditions in his first tournament in more than 500 days, it all slipped away for the 15-time major winner as he shot a six-over 78.
Woods has been struggling with the physical demands of getting around the course as he continues his recovery from serious leg surgery 14 months ago.
On day three at Augusta National, Woods continued to hit some good shots but had to scramble because of the wind, and three-putted on five different holes for the first time in his stellar career.