Sport Matsuyama chase is launched at Masters
Gary Player recalls how 60 years ago he ended USA's Augusta monopoly
DEREK LAWRENSON AT AUGUSTA: It's been 60 years since golf's original global ambassador pulled off a triumph that, to this day, still ranks as arguably the most influential victory in the game's history.Sixty years since the game's original global ambassador shocked the patrons to pull off a triumph that, to this day, still ranks as arguably the most influential victory in the game's history by a non-American golfer.
Hideki Matsuyama's quest to become a national hero and Marc Leishman's attempt to chase the Japanese star down began in blustery and difficult winds at the Masters.
Matsuyama sent Japanese golf fans into raptures with a blistering third round seven-under 65 to move to 11-under 205 and a four-shot overnight lead but conditions at Augusta National were far from simple as he hit the course on Sunday.
The 29-year-old, who first made his debut at the Masters as a teenager a decade ago, must negotiate some dicey pin positions, hard and fast greens, and some swirling heavy winds to protect the lead.
Tough Masters set-up not prompted by Johnson's record win
Augusta National didn't create firm and fast conditions for this week's Masters because top-ranked Dustin Johnson went 20-under par to shatter the course record last year on a rain-softened layout. "The course is in the best condition that I've ever seen it in the 20 years I've been a member."But club chairman Fred Ridley isn't complaining about the difficult conditions set to greet golfers when the year's first major championship tees off Thursday morning.
Collapses at the Masters are common. Greg Norman famously lost a six-shot lead 25 years ago to Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy coughed up a four-shot lead in 2011 and Jordan Spieth led by five with nine to play in 2016 before being run down by Danny Willett.
As he started the final round Matsuyama's lead had already been cut to three as Masters debutant Will Zalatoris birdied the opening hole in his quest to be the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
He was still four clear of playing partner Xander Schauffele, plus Australian Leishman and England's Justin Rose who occupy the group ahead.
Canadian Corey Conners was a shot further back at six under through one.
Spieth's hopes of making up a six-shot deficit took an early blow with an opening bogey leaving him seven off the pace at four under.
Masters: Can anyone end the American dominance in majors?
DEREK LAWRENSON: In echoes of Masters from long ago, the place has become an American stronghold once more. The last 11 majors held in the United States have been won by American golfers.In the sleepy Southern town, we are probably halfway from where we were last November back towards the usual April clamour, where the air is filled with constant chatter about golf and the endless promise of another majors season.
"This is a new experience for me being a leader going into the final round in a major," Matsuyama said through an interpreter on Saturday evening. "I guess all I can do is relax and prepare well and do my best."
Leishman is attempting to be just the second Australian to win the Masters after he was paired with Adam Scott for the drought-breaking 2013 final round.
"The pressure is on Hideki... He has a lot of people chasing him who want to put that jacket on as much as he does," Leishman told AAP after the third round.
"And I have the chance to apply more pressure to him if I can get off to a good start."
Schauffele was a runner up to Tiger Woods at Augusta in 2019 and has three runner ups on the PGA Tour this season without winning.
"I'm a huge fan of putting myself in position with nine holes to go and learning from each and every mistake and also the things I did well in those moments," Schauffele said.
Cameron Smith was the next best Australian at two-under through five holes with Matt Jones at two-over through 12.
Scott finished with a one-over 73 to finish at 11-over for the week.
Masters week leaves Leishman majors hungry .
Marc Leishman says another close call at the Masters has returned the mongrel to his game as he sets his sights on the year's remaining three majors.After a year littered with sub-par performances and general lethargy in his attitude, Leishman says collecting his second top-five at Augusta National has reinvigorated his season and has him pining for the remaining three majors of 2021.