On Saturday at a rain-interrupted Masters Tournament, Hideki Matsuyama shot a bogey-free round of 7-under 65 and will enter Sunday’s finale at Augusta National Golf Club with a four-shot advantage.
Highlighted by a late run of eagle, birdie, birdie, par-save on Nos. 15-18, the 29-year old Japanese star was lights-out impressive following a one-hour rain delay, producing a sizzling 6-under 30 on the closing nine to secure the 54-hole marquee position on 11-under 205.
In a post-round sit-down in the Butler’s Cabin, Matsuyama told CBS’ Jim Nantz that he spent the time during the rain delay, alone in his car, reading his phone.
“I spent the hour just sitting in my car, looking at my cell phone,” said Matsuyama, after Nantz asked if anything “suddenly clicked” during rain delay.
He added, “Yeah, before the horn blew, I didn’t hit a very good drive, but after the horn blew for the restart, I hit practically every shot exactly how I wanted to.”
The 29 year old Matsuyama is now in prime position to become Japan’s first major golf champion, and the first Asian to claim a green jacket.
“This will be a new experience for me, being a leader going into the final round in a major,” said Matsuyama, who last won in 2017 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“I guess all I can do is just relax as I can tonight, prepare well and just do my best tomorrow.”
Xander Schauffele (68), Justin Rose (72), Marc Leishman (70), and Will Zalatoris (71) were all tied for second on 7-under par. Corey Conners was 6 under.
2021 Masters Tournament Leaderboard
Masters Top 10: Round 3
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 3)
1. Hideki Matsuyama -11 (-7)
2. Xander Schauffele -7 (-4)
2. Justin Rose -7 (E)
2. Will Zalatoris -7 (-1)
2. Marc Leishman -7 (-2)
6. Corey Conners -6 (-4)
7. Jordan Spieth -5 (E)
8. Brian Harman -4 (+2)
9. Tony Finau -3 (+1)
10. Si Woo Kim -2 (+2)
10. Bernd Wiesberger -2 (+2)
10. Robert MacIntyre -2 (-2)
Final-Round Pairings: The Masters
2:40 pm – Matsuyama (-11), Schauffele (-7)
2:30 pm – Leishman (-7), Rose (-7)
2:20 pm – Zalatoris (-7), Conners (-6)
2:10 pm – Spieth (-5), Harman (-4)
2:00 pm – Finau (-3), MacIntyre (-2)
Odds To Win the 2021 Masters
1. Hideki Matsuyama (-120)
2. Xander Schauffele (+500)
3. Justin Rose (+900)
3. Will Zalatoris (+900)
5. Marc Leishman (+1100)
6. Jordan Spieth (+1600)
Parting Questions: Hideki Matsuyama
You are a two-time winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. How much did that help you to get here and where you are right now?
Hideki Matsuyama: “Playing here for the first time after I won the first Asia-Pacific Amateur, it was a difficult time in Japan because the earthquake and tsunami had just hit, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to come or not.
“But I came and fortunately was able to finish Low Amateur, and that experience and that — knowing I could play with other professionals really gave me a lot of confidence. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the members of Augusta National because I wouldn’t be here today without them.”
I think you shot 68 in your third round her (as an amateur). Did you feel at the time that this course was a good fit for you, and if so, why, and did you envision then one day winning here?
Hideki Matsuyama: “Shooting in the 60s, especially 68 that third round, it’s a round I’ll never forget. I still remember walking off the 18th green and Steve Stricker was just finishing, walking off the ninth hole, and saw me, and said, “Nice playing, Hideki.” That’s a memory I’ll cherish.
“And then because of that round, like you said and mentioned before, it gave me the confidence that I could play here. I could make professional golf a career.”