Masters Day 3 reaction: Will the Masters end before the back nine on Sunday?
It is often said that The Masters does not begin until the back nine on Sunday.
Well, 2020 doesn’t care about tradition. In 2020, The Masters may be over prior to the back nine on Sunday. Dustin Johnson was already tied for the lead following third-round action, and all he did on Saturday was card the low round of the field with a 7-under 65. Nobody else was better than 67. The result is a four-shot lead for the No. 1 player in the world, who heads into Sunday at 16-under (Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, and Cameron Smith are tied for second at -12).
Is D.J. at -295 a good bet?
Johnson isn’t just a favorite against the entire rest of the field. He is an overwhelming favorite. And why not? It isn’t the mere fact that he has a four-shot lead with 18 holes to play. A factor that cannot be overlooked is the challengers who are within four shots. Im, Ancer, and Smith have plenty of talent, but they are not the likes of Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, and Brooks Koepka. They aren’t even Tommy Fleetwood or Hideki Matsuyama. They are mostly unproven on tour, and none has ever finished in the top three of a major (only Smith has ever been in the top five). As for Thomas, Rahm, Reed, Koepka, Fleetwood, and Matsuyama, they were all in contention at some point on Saturday but now need miracles. Thomas is the leader of those outsiders at 10-under, while Rahm and Reed are -9.
It would take a considerable collapse by Johnson in order for anyone else with major-winning experience to get back into the real mix on Sunday. Although the 36-year-old American has melted down in the final round of a major more than once before, nothing suggests it will happen here. Johnson is now a U.S. Open champion (2016) and prior to this week he had finished in the top six in four of his previous six major appearances–including three runner-ups. Although it was close but no cigar at those events in terms of the trophy, he didn’t throw any of those chances away. He simply got beat. Johnson isn’t going to get beat on Sunday in Augusta; he would have to contribute to his own demise.
And he isn’t going to do it. Dating back to August, Johnson’s final-round scores are 67, 68, 63 (won), 67, 68 (won), 70 (tied for his best round at a very difficult U.S. Open), and 65.
It’s hard to love -295 juice. But at the same, Johnson makes it hard not to like it.
Nobody could make a real move
If you’re a fan of bunched-up leaderboards and ensuing chaos on the course, the first two rounds of the Masters were for you. The final round of the 2019 Masters was also for you (10 different players were either leading or within one shot of the lead at some point on Sunday before Woods pulled away late).
This year’s final round may not be, as Johnson and Johnson alone emerged from the scrum on Saturday. Basically nobody else rose to the occasion. For those in the aforementioned business of loving busy leaderboards, moving day at Augusta National was extremely frustrating to watch. Thomas, Reed, Fleetwood, Rahm, Matsuyama, and Woods were all stuck in neutral the whole way. Koepka was good but not good enough. Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy played well, but it is too little, too late in their cases. Im, Ancer, and Smith did well to get within striking distance, but even if there had been patrons on the grounds those three would not exactly have been igniting the famous roars.
Johnson was the only one who made real noise on Saturday. Don’t be surprised if Sunday’s story is the same.
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