AUGUSTA, Georgia — The sound and the fury.
That pretty much describes Saturday at the Augusta National Golf Club, where roars pin-balled through the pines and birdies came in bunches in the third round of The Masters Tournament.
The club has gone to extraordinary lengths over the last 20 years to keep up with advances in equipment technology and increasingly better conditioned and trained athletes playing the game. But when there is little wind and the course is soft, this is what happens:
Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson shoot 64s. The leader board is awash in red, with the field of 65 combining to make eight eagles and 277 birdies. The scoring average of 70.77 is the lowest for the third round in Masters history, beating the previous record of 70.98 in 1986.
And the ground shakes as Tiger Woods moves up the leader board and into contention.
There were no storms in the area — those are coming Sunday — but there was plenty of electricity in the air. Woods’ stellar 67, which included six birdies over the last 13 holes, and his massive gallery made it feel like it was 2001 again.
“Out of all the rounds I’ve played here this was the easiest scoring condition-wise,” said Cantlay, the 2011 U.S. Amateur runner-up in Wisconsin at Erin Hills. “I got out early, the wind wasn’t blowing too much, the greens were soft and the hole locations were much easier than the last few days. So, it was kind of the perfect storm for a good round.”
Thirty-six players broke par and 20 broke 70.
“Anytime you put the PGA Tour on receptive greens and low wind, scores will be good, kind of no matter where we are,” Simpson said.
Faces in the crowd
Jim Richerson, the vice president of the PGA of America and former general manager and director of golf for Kohler Co., served as an observer on the par-5 second hole. ... Bob Tway, the 1986 PGA champion, blended into the gallery as he followed his son, Kevin, who was paired with Jordan Spieth. ... Dennis Klumb Jr., president and CEO of New Berlin-based KS Energy Services, has attended about 15 Masters since 2000. He spent the day Saturday walking Augusta National with two clients.
Lilac among azaleas
Social media was abuzz Saturday over the lilac-themed wardrobe of many golfers making their way around Augusta National in the third round.
The common denominator among those who looked like they were a week early for Easter (a group that included Molinari, Woods, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day (pictured below)? Most were under contract to Nike.
⛳️Howse your luck poor old @IanJamesPoulter satororial as ever in lilac strides today,and Nike have dress most of their top players in the late coverage in lilac shirts - including his playing partner Tiger 🤣🤣😊🤠#Masters #TheMasters #golf #skygolf pic.twitter.com/7rGEHqtcLe— PitchFive (@FivePitch) April 13, 2019
Tweet of the week
Phil Mickelson came out swinging Saturday, recording a video Tweet in which he mapped out an aggressive game plan for the third round and then took a playful jab at playing partner Matt Kuchar.
"Obviously we're not going to have any side action today, because I'd probably see like .06-percent if I did win," Mickelson joked, referring to the much-publicized flap over Kuchar's perceived short-changing a substitute caddie who was on his bag for his win last fall at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Kuchar would have presumably walked away a winner Saturday had the two forged a friendly wager. He shot 68 and will go into the final round in a tie for seventh place, five shots back, while Mickelson shot 70 and is seven shots back in a tie for 14th.