Jordan Spieth will go into the final round of the Masters nursing a four-shot lead over England’s Justin Rose with three-time champion Phil Mickelson heading a charging pack behind.
Rose conjured up five birdies in his last six holes, including a chip-in from the bunker on 16, to finish on 12 under and remain in the hunt for his first Green Jacket.
His hopes of winning might also be buoyed by some uncharacteristic errors by Spieth towards the end of his round. He double-bogeyed the 17th and sliced his approach to the 18th green into the crowd, but recovered his composure to save par.
Spieth’s late wobble sets up an enthralling Sunday afternoon after a low-scoring thriller of a third day saw contenders rise and fall in their pursuit.
The young Texan’s two-under-par 70 left him on 16 under, a new Augusta record after 54 holes, and kept him on track to become the second youngest Masters champion in history behind Tiger Woods.
And Woods’s record score of 18 under, made in his epoch-changing debut win in 1997, is also in danger from a performance that for most of the first three days has borne striking similarities.
But Rose is on his tail after fighting back from a dropped shot on the first and another on the fifth to storm through the back nine, draining a horrible downhill birdie putt from the fringes on the last to go clear in second.
Mickelson’s five-under 67 puts him on 11 under, his six birdies igniting the galleries around the sun-baked course, with Woods and world number one Rory McIlroy both scoring 68s to tie for fifth on six under.
All three piled the pressure on the precocious Spieth until late dropped shots hurt McIlroy and Woods, with Mickelson missing another birdie putt by a fraction on the 18th.
Charley Hoffman, second overnight, remains in contention at 10 under after shooting 71 to add to his 67 and 68 over the first two days.
Not since Ray Floyd in 1976 has a Masters champion led from start to finish, indicative of the way this course can snare and punish even a man in rare form.
The history of the tournament is also littered with the tales of players who blew big final day leads – Greg Norman spurned a six-shot advantage in 1996, McIlroy four in 2011.
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