The Masters: Storylines to follow ahead of a marathon Sunday at Augusta National | Golf News


Brooks Koepka leads the way at The Masters following the suspension of play on Saturday

We take a look at some of the main talking points as The Masters heads into a packed final day, with the third round still to be completed following heavy rain which forced Saturday’s play to be suspended‚Ķ

Koepka vs Rahm: A two-horse race?

Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm have been the class acts of the field so far at Augusta National. Indeed, their performances in the first two rounds ensured it was the first time two players had been at 10 under par or better through 36 holes.

It is 32-year-old Koepka who holds the advantage though, leading world No 3 Rahm by four shots on 13 under up to the point where play was suspended on Saturday afternoon.

They will resume on Sunday on the seventh green with Koepka facing a putt to save par and Rahm having an opportunity to birdie, showing how much things could change with another 11 holes of the third round for the leaders to play.

As if a showdown between two golfers at the top of their game was not enough, there is the added drama of a probable showdown between LIV Golf defector Brooks and PGA Tour star Rahm for the right to pull on the fabled Green Jacket for the first time.

Smash GC captain Koepka triumphed in the most recent LIV event in Orlando ahead of The Masters and if he were to triumph it would hand a significant boost to the breakaway tour.

Koepka to seal his fifth major?

From a personal point of view, victory in the Masters would take Koepka three-quarters of the way to completing the Grand Slam of golf’s four majors.

Highlights from the third round of the 2023 Masters at Augusta National

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Highlights from the third round of the 2023 Masters at Augusta National

Highlights from the third round of the 2023 Masters at Augusta National

The American already has two PGA Championships and two US Opens to his name, and a triumph on Sunday would leave just The Open Championship remaining to complete the set ahead of this July’s tournament at Royal Liverpool.

It would put him among an elite group too, with only six other male players in the modern era having won five majors before turning 33: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer.

His statistics so far in this tournament are pointing towards success for Koepka too. He leads the way in Shots Gained Approach (+2.76) and is second for Shots Gained Putting (+1.76), while his six birdie or better scores on par-fives is tied for second as well.

Spanish success for Rahm?

Rahm spoke ahead of the tournament how aware he is of the history of his fellow Spaniards at The Masters, and he would join compatriots Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia in donning the Green Jacket if he were to emerge victorious.

Win probability leaders entering Sunday

Player Win probability %
Brooks Koepka 55.3
Jon Rahm 34.7
Collin Morikawa 2.2
Viktor Hovland 2.0

It will not be lost on him either that April 9 marks the late Ballesteros’ birthday and is the same date that Garcia clinched the 2017 Masters title.

The 28-year-old, who has one previous major under his belt in the form of the 2021 US Open, has yet to better his fourth place at Augusta National in 2018, although four of his six appearances at The Masters have resulted in top-10 finishes.

He is aiming to become the sixth player to win the Masters and US Open before the age of 29, and only the third from outside the USA to win both, but will need to arrest a slide which saw him at one over par for his round and losing 1.25 strokes putting to the field before play was suspended.

Chasing pack charging?

Should Koepka and Rahm falter, there is a group of players, including several major winners, behind them waiting to pounce.

Matt Fitzpatrick is among the group chasing the leaders at The Masters

Matt Fitzpatrick is among the group chasing the leaders at The Masters

Last year’s surprise US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, and former PGA Championship and Open winner Collin Morikawa are both lurking on five under par, tied for fourth with Norway’s Viktor Hovland – a player widely tipped as a future major winner.

Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson – back at Augusta National after missing last year’s tournament – and 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose are a further shot back tied for seventh in a group which includes another expected future major winner in Patrick Cantlay.

Still leading the chasing pack, though, in third at six under is Sam Bennett, whose total of 136 across the first two rounds was the lowest 36-hole score by an amateur at The Masters since Ken Venturi in 1956. It is worth noting, however, that no amateur player has won The Masters.

What to make of Tiger?

When he made the cut for the 23rd time at The Masters, Tiger Woods equalled a mark held by Fred Couples and Gary Player.

Tiger Woods props up The Masters leaderboard after finding the water twice on the rain-soaked course at Augusta

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Tiger Woods props up The Masters leaderboard after finding the water twice on the rain-soaked course at Augusta

Tiger Woods props up The Masters leaderboard after finding the water twice on the rain-soaked course at Augusta

But while Couples still seemed to be enjoying himself despite currently being tied for 49th on four over par, five-time champion Woods appeared to be struggling both physically and mentally on a day which saw him drop to last place and nine under par when play was suspended.

After starting the third round with a bogey, Woods made three consecutive pars, but then it was another bogey followed by back-to-back double-bogeys which left him three shots behind his nearest competitor, Charl Schwartzel.

The question now remains as to whether Woods will continue with his round and complete the tournament or decide to withdraw to save his body from further punishment.

Will the weather be a factor?

Play will resume at 8.30am local time (1.30pm BST), dependent on the condition of the course after the overnight rain, with just over 11 holes – or three and a bit hours – left of the third round still to complete.

Cloudy and breezy conditions are expected on Sunday, with no further rain or storm disruption, although any delay to the resumption would leave tournament officials in a race against time to get 72 holes completed before nightfall on Sunday.

A statement from Augusta National said the live broadcast – the global broadcast window – will remain as originally scheduled from 2pm-7pm local time (7pm-Midnight BST), with the tournament set to be finished without the need of taking the opening major of the year into a fifth day.

Who will win The Masters? Watch the conclusion of the third round live on Sunday from 1.30pm on Sky Sports Golf, ahead of the final round later that day. A host of bonus feeds will be available throughout the day via the red button on Sky Sports Golf!

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