Adam Scott admits he’ll need an historic final round to win a second Masters title after he and countryman Jason Day blew golden chances to start the final day in serious contention.
The pair of Australian former world No.1s began the third round tied for the lead but failed to break par as Tiger Woods roared to life and British Open champion Francesco Molinari grabbed the 54-hole lead.
Scott, the 2013 winner, shot even-par 72 to finish six shots behind Molinari while Day’s 73 left him an additional shot further back.
Also a joint overnight leader, Molinari played clinical golf, placing his shots with unerring surgical precision, during a bogey-free 66 that catapulted him to 13 under.
Scott birdied the first hole on Saturday to take the outrig
ht lead but a series of short missed putts cruelled his hopes, including three-putt bogeys at the par-4 fifth and 18th.
Day was very much in the mix until a costly error at the par-5 15th.
He laid up after an errant drive and misjudged his third shot as it came up short and spun back into the water en route to a crippling double-bogey.
“Oh yeah,” a frustrated Day said when asked if he let the tournament slip away.
“Especially playing the par 5s terribly. The double-bogey on 15 was a poor mistake.”
Woods was impressive during a 67 that left him tied second at 11 under alongside American Tony Finau, who carded an equal day’s best 64, while three-time major winner Brooks Koepka (69) is fourth at 10 under.
“He (Woods) obviously loves this place and he’s playing great golf,” Molinari said.
“So I’m aware that it’s not going to be easy tomorrow, I can just do my best.
“But it’s not like I can only worry about him. There’s a lot of guys I think in with a chance.”
Due to a storm forecast for Sunday afternoon, Masters officials announced they would send final-round competitors off early in threesomes off two tees from 7.30am local time (9.30pm AEST).
Although Scott’s six-shot Sunday deficit would not break a comeback record, the 38-year-old guessed he would need to shoot 61 to win at Augusta National once again.
That would beat the lowest final round by a Masters champion – Gary Player shot 64 to secure the 1978 event – by three shots.
“I have a chance … I could shoot 61, especially with the pins tomorrow,” Scott said.
“But that’s what I’ll need to do to be in with a chance unless something dramatic happens.”
But all eyes will be fixed firmly on Woods, who is attempting to win a fifth Masters green jacket and a 15th major in his first real Masters chance since sharing fourth in 2013.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in contention here, but the last two majors (2018 British Open and US PGA Championship) count for something,” Woods said of his sixth and second placings last year.
All of Woods’ 14 major victories have come from at least a share of the 54-hole lead and the 43-year-old admitted there was pressure trying to win one from behind.
Meanwhile, Cameron Smith (69) and Marc Leishman (70) finished their third rounds to sit three under and two under, respectively.
For the first time, the Masters winner will get receive more than $2 million ($A2.79m) following the prize fund being increased by $500,000 ($A697,000) to $11.5m ($A16m).
The winner will receive $2.07m ($A2.89m).