Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, GA — April 9, 2023
When play was suspended on Saturday, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm had completed six holes. It looked like Koepka was going to run away and hide. Both leaders birdied the second hole. Then, Rahm bogeyed four and five, and the lead swelled to four strokes. What a difference a day makes.
As players returned Sunday morning to complete their third round, the pressure of the Masters Tournament was already in full effect. Tiger Woods withdrew before finishing his third round.
Rahm birdied the seventh, and Koepka made a bogey for a two-shot swing. Both players carded two bogeys on the final nine, bringing the first-round co-leader within reach of Koepka at -11 and Rahm at nine-under-par.
Viktor Hovland made six birdies, including five in a row on the back nine. Four bogeys on his round cost him the overall lead. But he drew within a stroke of Rahm at seven under. Patrick Cantlay shot a 68 to get to six under, and Russell Henley’s 71 brought him into play at five under after three rounds.
Sunday’s Final Round
Sunday’s drama started quickly as Rahm birdied the third hole and Koepka bogeyed number four. Another two-shot swing and the tournament was tied at -10.
Koepka made a bogey on the par three sixth hole when he missed the green short and chipped well past the hole requiring two putts to find the bottom of the cup. Rahm led by one.
As the leaders were playing the eighth, eight players were tied at six under, four strokes off the lead. Rahm birdied the hole to move to -11 and gain a two-shot lead over Koepka. Jordan Spieth and Henley moved to seven-under-par.
For the followers, it is likely too little too late as the holes were running out. Spieth, playing the 17th, added another birdie to go to eight under. Phil Mickelson, playing with Spieth, birdied 17 to get to seven under. Only Henley, who had just finished the front nine, had a realistic chance. Unless the two leaders stumble badly on the back nine.
Koepka three-putted the ninth to drop another stroke and fall into a tie with Spieth at eight under. Remarkably Rahm did the same thing, and with nine to go, the tournament took on a whole new appearance.
Mickelson birdied 18 to become the leader in the clubhouse at eight-under-par. Spieth yanked his tee shot left on the final hole and could not salvage a par. Missing his chance to join Phil in waiting out the leader’s final nine.
Slugging it Out
Koepka made a bogey on the par three 12th to drop three behind the leader. He quickly responded with a birdie on the par five 13th, only to see Rahm match the same score.
Both missed the fairway to the right on the next hole. Both got their second shot on the green, hitting out from between the pines. Koepka’s ball settled 40 feet away from the hole, and Rahm sat four feet away from a birdie and a four-shot lead with four holes to play.
Koepka three-putted for a bogey as Rahm sank his birdie putt to go to -12. When Koepka woke up Sunday morning, he had a four-stroke lead. In what must now seem like a nightmare, he trails by five strokes. Going from the lead to a four-way tie for third place.
Koepka birdied the 15th and 16th holes to move back into second with a score of nine-under par, one stroke ahead of Mickelson at eight under. But still three behind Rahm.
Koepka bogeyed 17, and Rahm took care of business with pars on the final two holes. Earning his first green jacket. Mickelson and Koepka were left to ponder what might have been.
Final Results of the 87th Masters from Augusta National Golf Club
|POS||PLAYER||TOTAL||FINAL RD||RD 1||RD 2||RD 3||RD 4||STROKES|
|T29||Si Woo Kim||1||E||73||72||72||72||289|
|T29||Harold Varner III||1||-2||72||71||76||70||289|