Hideki Matsuyama shot a 65 on Saturday to leapfrog Justin Rose heading into the final day of the Masters and boasts a four-shot lead. The 29-year-old will become the first Japanese man to win a major if he can hold on to top spot on Sunday after hitting the first bogey-free round of this year’s tournament in Augusta.
Matsuyama put on a brilliant display to record a score of 11 under while Rose is on seven under along with Marc Leishman of Australia and American duo Will Zalatoris and Xander Schauffele.
While last year’s champion Dustin Johnson was joined by fellow big names Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka in failing to make the cut on Friday, 2015 winner Jordan Spieth is five under par. World number two Justin Thomas endured a testing Saturday and sits at one under par after three bogeys and a triple-bogey eight at 13 between the ninth and 14th.
New experience for Matsuyama
The world number 25 surged ahead on Saturday and now enters the final day of a major as the leader for the first time in his career.
Matsuyama, who hit rounds of 69 and 71 on Thursday and Friday, recorded a birdie at seven after making par on the opening six holes on day three. He then made two birdies in succession on 11 and 12 to move level with Rose. Zalatoris and Schauffele briefly shared the lead too before the Japanese played raced away, hitting an eagle at the 15th before a birdie on the 16th, his first shot just four feet from a hole-in-one. Matsuyama then recorded a birdie putt at 17.
"Before the horn blew I didn't hit a very good drive but after the restart I hit practically every shot exactly how I wanted to," he said. “I just stuck to my game plan. Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.
"It will be a new experience for me, being a leader going into the final round of a major. All I can do is relax, prepare well and do my best.”
Can Rose mount a comeback?
The Englishman admitted his game changed when the players had to contend with a storm passing through Georgia which halted proceedings for an hour.
"It was a tricky day, when the storm was approaching it was really windy," he told reporters. "When we came back out it felt there was a period of time to make a score, but then the greens slowed up a lot.
"There was definitely some tricky moments out there. I had to work hard and after 12 holes I thought I was in a nice spot. Hideki hit the jets and I hit the brakes a bit, that was the difference. A lot is to do with how Hideki plays, but there is a big chasing pack waiting. We are in a good spot."
He’s right. After a difficult start with bogeys on four and five, he made par on 11 and four of the last five holes to keep his place among the top spots.
Round Four Tee Times – Sunday, 11 April
15:00 A Scott (Aus), J Herman (US)
15:10 JM Olazabal (Spa), B Todd (US)
15:20 G Woodland (US), C Bezuidenhout (SA)
15:30 B Horschel (US), P Casey (Eng)
15:40 M Thompson (US), A Ancer (Mex)
15:50 T Hatton (Eng), I Poulter (Eng)
16:00 B DeChambeau (US), H English (US)
16:10 L Oosthuizen (SA), J Kokrak (US)
16:20 S Munoz (Col), C Champ (US)
16:40 C Morikawa (US), M Jones (Aus)
16:50 T Fleetwood (Eng), M Fitzpatrick (Eng)
17:00 B Watson (US), M Laird (Sco)
17:10 C Schwartzel (SA), M Wallace (Eng)
17:20 M Hughes (Can), S Lowry (Ire)
17:30 J Rahm (Spa), S Scheffler (US)
17:40 J Niemann (Chi), W Simpson (US)
17:50 F Molinari (Ita), P Mickelson (US)
18:00 J Thomas (US), C Smith (Aus)
18:20 R Palmer (US), V Hovland (Nor)
18:30 S Cink (US), H Stenson (Swe)
18:40 K Na (US), P Reed (US
18:50 B Wiesberger (Aut), SW Kim (Kor)
19:00 R MacIntyre (Sco), T Finau (US)
19:10 B Harman (US), J Spieth (US)
19:20 C Conners (Can), W Zalatoris (US)
19:30 J Rose (Eng), M Leishman (Aus)
19:40 X Schauffele (US), H Matsuyama (Jpn)