What a day. It started with a mish mosh (including a 9-way tie early in the 3rd round) at the top of the leaderboard and it ended with the world's best on top. And not just on top, he's separated himself from the pack by 4 strokes by finishing up his 2nd 65 of the week.
With the world's 1-2-3 all starting the 3rd round with a share of the lead, it was very much an opportunity for DJ, Rahm, and JT to show what they're made of. DJ answered in a big way with a 65, while the other two each made errors that have created uphill battles for themselves on Sunday.
Lots of other action out there today, so let's get to the winners and losers of the day.
Dustin Johnson.... obviously
It's the DJ show out there. The world's #1 golfer is showing the world why he's exactly that. Firing darts left and right. Pretty much from the minute he got out there Friday morning he's been in complete control of his ball, and subsequently... this tournament. When he eagled 2 today and got out in front, nobody ever really threatened his lead. And he wasn't hesitant to keep attacking either. A great example is the way he played #15.
He hit his tee shot down the left side and his line to the pin was blocked out by the trees that line that side of the fairway. A conservative player without confidence atop a leaderboard may have very reasonably just pitched his ball further down the fairway and laid up on the right side short of the water to get a good angle at that middle-left pin. Not DJ. DJ swoops a high draw around those trees and finds the right side of the green to set up an easy birdie and further cement that lead. I don't think most the casual folks at home understand how tough that shot shape is there on a green where distance control is so key.
You can't help but think this is the DJ we were supposed to get back in 2017 when he took that infamous spill down the stairs. He was coming off 3 straight wins going into that tournament and came into this tournament in nearly as good form. It's shown. The narrative you'll hear is that he's had four 54-hole leads in majors and converted none, but two of them were co-leads, another was a 1 shot lead earlier this year at the PGA, and the other was a 3-shot lead a decade ago when he was a far inferior golfer. The Masters is a tournament where anything can happen and they say the Tournament doesn't start until the back 9 on Sunday but right now… it feels damn near close to over.
Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith, And Abraham Ancer
These are three guys that haven't really been in contention in a major before and anyone could have expected for them to fall back today. All 3 showed some stones and fired rounds in the 60's to find themselves in a share for 2nd going into Sunday. You can't really fault them for DJ being the machine that he is. If you go into a round with a co-lead at the Masters like Ancer and Cam did, I think you take a round in the 60's in a heartbeat. It would be so easy to be timid or be overaggressive at a course that penalizes that type of mentality, and all of them held their nerve well.
I especially loved the way Cameron Smith was smart on 17 when he blasted his tee shot way right onto the adjacent 15th fairway. Many would have tried to play a hero shot back through the trees to try to get one onto the green, especially after watching JT do exactly that from a similar (albeit less dangerous) spot. Cam didn't panic, smartly played his shot further up the 15th fairway, and left himself an angle to hit a wedge in from 97 yards to get up and down to save par. That type of patience and creativity pays dividends at Augusta National.
These guys have positioned themselves well in case DJ falters and if he just hovers around that -16 number, one of them just may catch him.
I meant to mention him yesterday but I just ran out of space. As bad as his 75 was on Thursday, his last two rounds have been magnificent. He was sitting well outside the cut early Friday and has since surged his way up the leaderboard to get to… the fringe of contention? Not really but kinda? Rory going out there and shooting a 64 or 65 tomorrow to get to -16 isn't inconceivable, but it's pretty damn unlikely. Regardless, at one point Rory was barreling towards missing the cut here for the first time in the decade and it looks like he's at least positioned himself to backdoor the top 10 (as he is known to do). He gets the question marks because ultimately this will be another failed attempt at the career Grand Slam but at least he's salvaged what he has.
What a week for Ogletree huh? Kid got to play 2 rounds at the fkn MASTERS with THE Tiger Woods, and managed to backdoor the cut after he was sitting at +2 thru 26 holes. And he didn't just make the cut, he was able to move past John Augenstein to position himself 2 strokes ahead for Top Amateur going into Sunday. Those two will be duking it out for the Silver Cup tomorrow. Just wish they would pair them together because that would be phenomenal theater to watch down the stretch early in the day.
Good Boys Betting On Bogeys At The Masters
Wasn't gonna not get this on the blog. I said to lean towards bogeys on hole props today and this good boy listened.
Classic Jon Rahm today. We've seen him rage like this on quite a few occasions. The 2018 Masters comes to mind. We saw the wheels come off with him at The PLAYERS last year too. I mean the scene on #8 was something else, we all saw it. What the cameras didn't show was the hissy fit that we all wanted to see.
Today was supposed to be a battle of heavyweights between the world's top 3, and Rahm simply did not come to play. JT faltered down the stretch and he deserves some ribbing as well, but Rahm especially fell back early and really was never in it.
I mean… he's going to be in this loser section every single day he doesn't break par. And by break par, I mean break 67.
You can't back up those Par 67 quotes with 70-74-69. You just can't. Pissed off he made the cut on the number because I had a blog all dialed up for if he missed it.
Phil played better in rounds 1 and 2 than I expected by going 69-70. Hell, earlier today I even said he had worked himself on to the fringes of contention. What I thought was interesting at the time was that he followed up his play on Friday by saying that he was confident that he had left a bunch of shots out there, couldn't get anything going with the putter, and was determined to fix it. Didn't work out so hot as he fired an ugly 3rd round 79 to move back over par for the tournament. The round included bogeys on 5 out of 6 holes on the First Nine and a snowman on 15. He'll have an early tee time Sunday.
The Tiger Woods Section
Tiger had his fun with the 68 on Thursday, but that feels like it was a week ago. He continues to hit the ball off the tee relatively well (for him), but he just hasn't been as dialed in the past 2 days. What's worse is that he came into today knowing that he had 26 holes to play, and it looked like his back was a little bit tight. That's the tough thing with him. He's going to have his days where he looks free and loose and comfortable letting it rip, but getting 4 of those days in a row is a tall task. It's worse when when of your bad day comes when you have to play more than 18.
I will say that what I've seen from him this week is more encouraging than what I expected going in. He really hasn't played any good tournament golf since winning the Zozo Championship over in Asia well over a year ago. He's the GOAT and you know he's always got that in him, it's just good to see it every once in a while like we did on Thursday.
Bernhard Langer from downtown!
Patty Reed splashed one in for bird on 10
Rickie is quietly playing a little better and this hole out certainly helped. Yup, that's a 3, can confirm. Circle it babe.
These are so pleasing to the eye every single time.
Gonna another fun Sunday… at the Masters.