The golf world is shocked as a star sets Augusta on fire during a bizarre Masters run.
The golf world has been shocked by a star's dream third round, which has the Masters on the verge of achieving a never-before-seen historic result.
Hideki Matsuyama used an impressive back-nine shotmaking performance to take a four-stroke lead into Sunday's third round of the Masters, placing the Japanese star on the verge of a historic victory at Augusta National.
Matsuyama, attempting to become the first Japanese man to win a major, fired a seven-under par 65, his lowest Masters 18-hole total and the week's first bogey-free round, to stand at 11-under 205 after 54 holes.
“Being a leader heading into the final round of a major would be a new experience for me,” Matsuyama said.
“I suppose I'll try to relax as much as possible and do my best tomorrow.”
Justin Rose of England, Marc Leishman of Australia, and Americans Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris tied for second place on 209.
On a day marked by carnage, the most humiliating moment occurred when Billy Horschel suffered a live microphone slip during a moment in which he ended up on his backside.
On Day 2, it was Si Woo Kim who made headlines for the wrong reasons when he smashed his putter and finished his round on the greens using his 3-wood.
Matsuyama lacked such tragedies.
This ensures that Leishman only needs four strokes to earn the green jacket and the cool $2.07 million winner's cheque on Monday morning (AEST).
Matsuyama adapted well as Augusta National's lightning-fast greens were softened by rain, going six-under in a seven-hole stretch on the back nine.
After a 78-minute pause caused by the storm, the swirling winds subsided and the wet course became receptive. Slowed greens, on the other hand, were difficult to read — except for Matsuyama.
He ended his flawless round with one eagle, five birdies, and no bogeys.
He now has an eagle in each of the three rounds at Augusta this week.
“After the restart horn blew, I hit every shot precisely as I desired,” Matsuyama explained through a translator.
The 29-year-old Sendai native had already birdied the par-4 seventh hole and sunk 10-foot birdie putts on the par-4 11th and par-3 12th holes.
Matsuyama dropped his approach shot six feet from the hole on the par-5 15th and holed the eagle putt to take the outright lead.
Matsuyama then landed his tee shot inches from the cup and tapped in for birdie on the par-3 16th and holed a six-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th to move to 11-under and take a three-shot lead.
Number 25 in the world At the 18th, Matsuyama found a fairway bunker and sailed a 7-iron 30 yards over the green.
He rolled a chip to two feet and tapped in to complete an impressive round with an eerie contact.
Matsuyama discovered no secret during the break.
“I spent the hour simply sitting in my car and staring at my phone,” he said. Matsuyama's previous best 18-hole Masters performance was a 66 in the 2015 final round. He finished fifth, his highest result at the event so far.
Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan won the Augusta National Women's Amateur on Saturday, and Matsuyama described her as an inspiration this week.
“What she accomplished was incredible,” he said. “I will walk in her footsteps and bring Japan pride.” Matsuyama, who hasn't won since the 2017 Akron World Golf Championship, has seven top-10 finishes in majors, including a runner-up finish at the 2017 US Open.
Yang Yong-eun of South Korea is the only Asian man to have won a major golf trophy, having done so at the 2009 PGA Championship.
25 of the previous 30 Masters champions came from the final pairing, which will feature Matsuyama and Schauffele.
Schauffele holed a long eagle putt at 15 and birdied the course's other three par-5 holes en route to a round of 68.
Rose, who started the day with a one-stroke lead, opened with back-to-back birdies to hit 9-under, but the two-time Masters runner-up required a long par putt at 18 to card his second consecutive par 72.
Zalatoris, attempting to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win his Masters debut, carded a 71, while Leishman carded a 70.
Corey Conners of Canada electrified the crowd with a hole-in-one at the 180-yard par-3 sixth hole en route to a 68 and a tie for sixth place on 210.
It was the Masters' second ace of the year. Tommy Fleetwood of England aced the par-3 16th hole on Thursday for the first time.