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Matsuyama in control of Masters


AUGUSTA, United States: Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama stormed home in style to put himself in position to become the first Asian golfer to win the Masters as he held a four-shot lead after the rain-interrupted third round at Augusta National on Saturday.

Matsuyama, who began the day three shots behind overnight leader Justin Rose, played eight holes after a 78-minute weather delay and went a sizzling six under over that stretch for a seven-under-par 65 that brought him to 11 under. “Before the horn blew I didn’t hit a very good drive, but after the horn blew for the restart I hit practically every shot exactly how I wanted to,” Matsuyama, whose last PGA Tour win came in 2017, said through an interpreter.

“This will be a new experience for me being a leader going into the final round in a major. I guess all I can do is just relax tonight, prepare well and just do my best tomorrow.”

Rose (72), seeking his first Green Jacket after a pair of close calls, was in a four-way share of second place with Xander Schauffele (68), Australian Marc Leishman (70) and Masters debutant Will Zalatoris (71).

World number 25 Matsuyama stormed through Amen Corner with a pair of birdies and then started to pull away from the field with an eagle at the par-five 15th to grab the outright lead following a magnificent approach.

Matsuyama then birdied the next two holes before capping the first bogey-free round of the week with a par to set a target nobody could catch as he became the first player from Japan to lead after any round of the Masters.

It also marked Matsuyama’s best round in his 10 Masters appearances by one shot.

Rose, seeking his first Masters victory after a pair of runner-up finishes, had been in control all week and led by two shots moments after play resumed but was out of sync and unable to take advantage of rain-softened conditions.

The 40-year-old Englishman made a birdie-birdie start to build an early three-shot lead but then made consecutive bogeys from the par-three fourth before the inclement weather moved in while he was playing the seventh hole.

Rose returned and mixed one birdie with a bogey at the par-three 16th and then made a clutch 17-foot par save at the last hole where he sent his drive into the pine straw right of the fairway before missing the green with his second shot.

“I didn’t play well enough today, simple as that really,” said Rose. — Reuters

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