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Smith closes within three of Scheffler at The Masters
Scheffler on nine under and three ahead of Smith going into the final day; Rory McIlroy tied-ninth as Tiger Woods slides down leaderboard with third-round 78 – watch live coverage from the final round of The Masters exclusively live on Sky Sports Golf
By Ali Stafford at Augusta National
Last Updated: 10/04/22 12:35am
World No 1 Scottie Scheffler remains in pole position to secure a maiden major victory despite seeing his lead cut to three strokes heading into the final round at The Masters.
Scheffler, chasing a fourth victory in six starts, entered the weekend with a five-shot lead and moved as far as six ahead during a cold and breezy Saturday at Augusta National, only to stumble along the closing stretch and sign for a one-under 71.
The 25-year-old heads into the final day on nine under and with a commanding advantage over Cameron Smith, who fired a round-of-the-day 68 and can leapfrog Scheffler into world No 1 with a victory, with Sungjae Im a further two strokes back in third place.
Just seven players remain in red figures after a tough scoring day in Georgia, with Ireland’s Shane Lowry sharing fourth spot with Charl Schwartzel and Justin Thomas joining Canada’s Corey Conners on one under.
Scheffler got up and down from wide of the opening green to save par and then followed a close-range birdie at the second by rolling in from eight feet at the third, briefly taking him six clear, only to miss from five feet and bogey the par-three fourth.
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Lowry – playing in the group ahead – cut the gap to four when he holed from 15 feet to birdie the sixth, as Scheffler converted from a similar distance on the same hole and took advantage of the par-five eighth to restore a six-stroke cushion.
Smith came into the weekend six back but reduced the deficit with three birdies in a five-hole stretch from the sixth, while Lowry lost ground with a bogey at the ninth and Schwartzel jumped into solo second with a hole-out eagle at the par-four 10th.
Scheffler was unable to convert a birdie opportunity at the 11th and failed to get up and down from off the next green to save par, as Smith took advantage of both par-fives on the back nine to temporarily close within three of the lead.
The Players champion missed a six-footer to save par at the 16th and slipped back to six under, with Scheffler picking up a shot at the par-five 13th but then bogeying the next to slip back to 10 under.
Scheffler responded to a three-putt bogey at the par-five 15th by making a close-range birdie on his penultimate hole, only to find the trees off the final tee and have to take a penalty drop on his way to a closing bogey.
2016 champion Danny Willett is in eighth spot on level par, while a one-under 71 was enough to move Rory McIlroy into a share of ninth alongside the likes of Collin Morikawa, Tommy Fleetwood and 2020 winner Dustin Johnson.
Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama slipped out of contention with a five-over 77, while Tiger Woods carded the worst round of his Masters career as he made a four-putt and four three-putts in his third-round 78.
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