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July 25 2017, 08:44 | Van Peters
Rory Mc Ilroy was proud of his battling display on day one at Augusta
The two veterans seeking to become the oldest Masters champions slid down the leaderboard Saturday.
Garcia, who began the day in a four-way tie at the top, had a steady 70 and rolled in a 7-footer for par on the 18th to maintain his share of the lead. Rickie Fowler a stroke back.
For Spieth, who has entered Sunday with the lead the last two years, and closed the deal once and very much did not the second time, this will mark a new experience.
"Oh, I've holed the winning putt about a million times", said the Belgian, who started playing the game at age five and grew up watching the Masters every year on TV in his native Belgium.
As McIlroy gained momentum on the back nine, Shane Lowry lost some of his with bogeys on 15 and 16, before two pars left him signing for a level-par 72 alongside McIlroy.
Even more daunting were the players lined up behind them - Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson among four Masters champions, Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose, Spanish rookie sensation Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, missing only this major for the career Grand Slam. Garcia reveals he received a message of support from two-time victor Jose Maria Olazabal.
"I'm glad I took the (Saturday) scoring average down a little bit", Garcia said. "I just, you know, 'What would Arnie do?' was my way of expressing it to Michael", he said. "But it would be nice to have a chance to do it".
If you are into the alleged Renaissance of English golfers, then Rose is your man.
There is a similar "dam the torpedoes" quality to Spieth's play and the 23-year-old Texan seems to have the same unique bond with Augusta National that Palmer had.
Rose, who birdied five of the final seven holes for a 5-under 67, is the 5-2 favorite to win the Masters after the odds were adjusted Saturday night. This is a place I dearly love to be part of history here. "I'm going to need something like that to have a chance tomorrow", McIlroy said. At 3 under is 2013 champion Adam Scott (69) and at 2 under is 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel.
Saturday's round was like a high-level chess match.
That gave the 37-year-old Spaniard two putts from 12 feet for the victory, and his putt swirled into the cup.
After starting the day with five consecutive pars, Spieth kick-started his round with a run of three birdies in four holes before the turn - the highlight coming at the ninth when a handsome approach left a tap-in. The former US Open victor, and Olympic gold medallist recorded birdies on his final two holes, in a back-nine of -5, to book his spot in Sunday's final group. "You can't really Jordan-proof it", Spieth said, per Myers. "It feels like the kind of course you need to get to know". But with that being said, even when you're playing conservative lines, you still have to execute. That's all you want.
"Anything can happen on a Sunday at Augusta", said early finisher Jason Day, who had 69 but is nine shots off the lead.
"I took advantage of the par fives - 8, 13, 15 - and stole a couple more", Rose said. "It was a very solid round, and then obviously finishing birdie-birdie put a cherry on top". Garcia made bogey, dropping him to 3 under.
Charley Hoffman had a birdie on the ninth hole to make the turn with a two-stroke lead in Saturday's third round at the Masters. As the top-ranked player amidst the current crop of contender in Augusta, Fowler is in a prime position to secure his first major title.
The turning point came on the par-five 13th, where Garcia mis-hit his approach shot and thought he had hit it into a creek for a penalty, only to discover it had stopped on a steep upslope a few feet from the water hazard.