The Tournament leader. #themasters pic.twitter.com/b7ILAkZlyF— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
2022 Masters leaderboard breakdown: Scottie Scheffler's lead narrows as Cameron Smith puts pressure on
Scheffler's advantage was nearly halved, though he remains the clear favorite to win the Masters
Scottie Scheffler handed some strokes back to the field on the final nine holes of the third round at the 2022 Masters, creating plenty of intrigue ahead of Sunday's final round after it appeared as though the world No. 1 was about to run away with his first green jacket. There will be plenty of history on the line when Scheffler and the field step up Sunday to take on Augusta National with $2.7 million hanging in the balance.
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Scheffler is trying to become the fourth man to win in his first Masters start, joining Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen and Fuzzy Zoeller. He's already won three times in 2022 and reached the top of the world rankings in the process, so it's not a huge surprise to see him playing well here at Augusta National this week. He's also attempting to be just the fifth golfer to enter the Masters as the No. 1 golfer in the world and leave with a green jacket, following Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods (twice) and Dustin Johnson.
What was a surprise was the four bogeys across the final seven holes by Scheffler on Saturday afternoon. Suddenly, a lead that hovered around five strokes for most of the day quickly shrank hand-in-hand with Cameron Smith shooting the best round of the day and surging to 6 under. Bogeys on No. 12, No. 14, No. 15 and No. 18 left Scheffler at 9 under, one stroke better than he started for the championship but closer to the field than he was hoping to be after an impressive start to the round.
Here's how the top of the leaderboard looks heading into Sunday's final round at the 86th Masters.
2022 Masters leaderboard, Round 3
1. Scottie Scheffler (-9): A strong 33 on the first nine helped prevent the ultimate damage from some risk-taking and mishits on the second nine as he rounded his worst round of the week but still protected a multi-stroke lead. Scheffler saved himself from disaster on the 18th when he plucked his ball out of a forest to hit an incredible approach shot from a stack of pine needles. He bogeyed, cutting his advantage to three strokes, but it could have been far worse.
2. Cam Smith (-6): The round of the day came from one of the hottest golfers in the world as Smith caught fire with six birdies on his way to a 68. Smith's 16 birdies across three rounds is double the field average and shows one of the sport's best right now bringing his A-game in the same difficult scoring conditions that knocked most off their game.
3. Sungjae Im (-4): After a rocky start that included a double bogey on No. 1 and back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 5 and 6, Im rolled off five birdies and no bogeys on his final 11 holes to go soaring back up the leaderboard after taking an early afternoon tumble. Like Scheffler, the 18-hole leader Im was 1 under for the day but remains in the hunt.
T4. Shane Lowry, Charl Schwartzel (-2): Both major champions played close to field average on Saturday after carding among the lowest scores in the field on Friday. Schwartzel made eagle on the ninth but imploded on the second nine with four bogeys. Both finished the day one stroke higher than they started it.
T6. Justin Thomas, Corey Conners (-1): J.T. is one of seven players in the top 10 with a major championship already under their belt, and therefore, he is theoretically a threat to Scheffler's lead. Thomas continued his rebound from an atrocious 76 on Thursday with a 72 that beat the field average by a couple strokes. Unfortunately, while Moving Day featured elite ball striking into the greens, it was also his worst putting performance of the tournament so far, and a couple more made putts would mean J.T. having a much better chance of capturing his second major championship.
Meanwhile, the iron play has been really solid from Conners all week, as has the putter, and his 72 falls in line with that consistency as he's hovered around par all week while most of the field has posted as least one round with big numbers. The 30-year-old Canadian is building an impressive Augusta resume with a chance to notch his third-straight top-10 finish.
T8. Danny Willett (E): The 2016 Masters champion has been a par machine this week. His 38 pars are perfectly balanced with exactly eight birdies and eight bogeys. Willett's 3-under 69 on Thursday helped boost his position heading into Sunday, and if he matches that score in Round 4, he will likely record his best finish since that 2016 victory.
T9. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Jason Kokrak, Tommy Fleetwood (+1): Of this group, it was Morikawa and D.J. that fell back into the +1 logjam while the rest went under par in the third round. Fleetwood's 70 was the second-best round of the day. Rory moving into the top 10 would be a bigger story if the distance between Scheffler's lead and 10th place on the leaderboard wasn't eight strokes. There's definitely a chance for a strong finish on Sunday, record his seventh top-10 in the last nine Masters and maybe even match his best-ever finish at Augusta National (solo 4th in 2015). But fourth place is only three strokes away, and actually completing the grand slam is way further out of reach.
T14. Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Will Zalatoris, Cameron Champ (+2): After starting the day very much in the mix to chase Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion saw the wheels fall off in a 5-over 77 that included five bogeys and a double. Champ was the only one of this group to finish under par Saturday, riding a strong performance off the tee and with the putter on the greens.
T41. Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Daniel Berger and Russell Henley (+7): Tiger's 78 was his worst at Augusta National as an amateur or a pro, and Rahm's 77 cemented what's already been a week of results well below the pre-tournament expectations. Both Woods and Rahm are candidates to throw a crazy-low number on the board Sunday morning in ideal scoring conditions, but both will also have some regrets later about how things played out on Saturday.
Rick Gehman, Greg DuCharme and Mark Immelman discuss Tiger Woods and his putting struggles on Saturday. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
No. 1 in World Ranking (started in 1986) with the 54-hole lead/co-lead at #TheMasters— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
1991 Woosnam - Won
1996 Norman - 2nd
2001 Woods - Won
2002 Woods - Won
2020 Johnson - Won
Scottie Scheffler heads into Sunday at the Masters with a three-shot lead.— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Coverage begins on CBS tomorrow at 2 PM ET. pic.twitter.com/2MSZ2OYIFJ
Game on— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Players with a 3-shot lead entering the final round of #TheMasters are 7-for-12 all-time.
26 of the last 31 Masters winners have come from the final group on Sunday.
"Are you serious?!"— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Scottie Scheffler recovers with brilliance on the 18th hole. pic.twitter.com/aK5EakuqeZ
Scottie Scheffler's drive finds the trees on the 18th hole. pic.twitter.com/nbAukTwnMe— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Second nine surge. #themasters pic.twitter.com/PMOtHRfxBE— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
Things are moving quickly at 18— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Second nine surge. #themasters pic.twitter.com/kVlUOlipbn— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
Doesn't get much better than this.— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Scottie Scheffler delivers a perfect approach shot on the 17th. pic.twitter.com/UpEvLsVyci
26 of the last 31 winners of #TheMasters were in the final group on Sunday.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Quite the round for Cam Smith.— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
His 68 puts him at -6 and in contention to be in the final pairing on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/3xei6Vivib
Difficult conditions, impressive round. #themasters pic.twitter.com/zzF8LbgSf3— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith have earned the most World Ranking points of any players so far in 2022. 1-2 on the Masters leaderboard.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Cameron Smith pulls within three of the lead with a birdie on No. 15. #themasters pic.twitter.com/kdxW1A4M1I— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
Tiger Woods has played nearly 1,400 career PGA Tour rounds. Today was the first time he has ever had 38 or more putts.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Cam Smith is making a move. He's within three shots of Scottie Scheffler.— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Watch the third round on CBS and @paramountplus. pic.twitter.com/HTGDCND8v2
“Well, I was hitting too many putts.”— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Tiger Woods talks about his third round, what it’ll take for him to consider the week a success, and his group text with Justin Thomas with @Amanda_Balionis. pic.twitter.com/qryMVmTV56
Playing partner Scottie Scheffler gave Schwartzel a well-earned congratulations. https://t.co/XgAjQccASr pic.twitter.com/H1QujY4jqG— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
Last world number 1 to lead any men's major by 5+ strokes entering the final round— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Tiger Woods, 2000 U.S. Open (led by 10, won by 15)
"It's a two for Schwartzel!"— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
The 2011 Masters Champions holes out for eagle on No. 10. pic.twitter.com/jyrowfRkAR
Eagle for Schwartzel! #themasters pic.twitter.com/uzJOXGEbgy— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
Three under for the day and in front by six shots. pic.twitter.com/yjtV3hBR9Z— GOLF on CBS ⛳ (@GOLFonCBS) April 9, 2022
I'm not scared. Scottie gets to 11, and it is *over.* pic.twitter.com/cxhCGBZ8E9— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) April 9, 2022
Most strokes gained approach in the field this week— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) April 9, 2022
Cam Smith, 9.45
Justin Thomas, 5.49
Great CBS graphic just now on total players under par.
After R1: 18
After R2: 15
Cameron Smith is now three under par on the day and in a tie for second place. #themasters pic.twitter.com/PlwQnOoQ5W— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
Saturday at the Masters. #themasters pic.twitter.com/AvhXv3Pw73— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022