Saturday at the Masters: Molinari leads, Tiger in the hunt, scoring history and an increase in prize money announced

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Recapping the third round of the Masters: Molinari leads, Tiger in the hunt, scoring history and an increase in prize money announced

Here's a run-down of everything you missed during Round 3 of the Masters

Francesco Molinari grabs two-shot lead heading in to final round
Tiger Woods in the hunt for 15th major
Severe Weather means groups of three and two-tee starts
Scoring history made on Day 3 with three 64s
Masters Prize Fund announced - set for biggest pay out yet
Eddie Pepperell describes playing with Masters marker, and legend, Jeff Knox
Four amateurs who made the cut prove they belong as they impress at Augusta National

Francesco Molinari extended his bogey-free run at Augusta National to 43 holes as he carded a third-round 66 and grabbed a two shot lead over Tiger Woods and Tony Finau heading in to the final round of the Masters.

The reigning Open Champion began the day in a tie for the lead and made five pars in a row to start his day while early clubhouse leader Tony Finau made his way quickly to double figures thanks four birdies and an eagle over his opening eight holes.

But Molinari, who teed off in the final group of the day after finishing round two as one of five major champions at seven-under, remained patient.

He made his first birdie after hitting his approach shot to eight feet on the par three sixth, and moved to nine-under-par for the tournament with a two-putt birdie on the par-five eighth.

Finau quickly reached 11-under, and it wasn't long before the recognisable roars belonging to birdies from Tiger Woods reverberated around the course when he reached the same total. Not to be outdone, Molinari suddenly found his stride around Amen Corner. 

The first Italian major champion in history almost holed out for an ace on the 12th, two putted for birdie on 13, and holed two putts under 9 feet for birdie on 14 and 15 to set the marker at 13-under-par. 

Read full report, and what Molinari said, here

molinari

Tiger in the hunt for major glory for third major in a row

Tiger Woods finished T6 at The Open and 2nd at the PGA Championship in 2018, and has another chance at adding a fifth green jacket to his already overwhelming list of accolades if he can overturn a two-stroke defecit to win the Masters on Sunday. 

It seems almost hard to remember that not so long ago he wasn't sure if he would ever return to the game after a fourth back surgery resulted in a fused spine.

But return he did, rising from outside the World's top 1000 at his lowest to No.12, claiming his 80th PGA Tour title at the Tour Championship, and has becoming a regular feature on major leaderboards once again.

And Woods is hoping experience will count when it comes to Sunday at the Masters.

"It's been a while since I've been in contention here. But then again the last two majors counts for something," said Woods. "I've been in the mix with a chance to win major championships in the last two years. And so that helps. And tomorrow it will be ‑‑ it will be interesting to see if that wind comes up like it's forecast, 15, 20 miles an hour around this golf course is going to be testy. And got to be committed, hit the proper shots and then hopefully we time it right."

As for how he is going to prepare, a complete change in scheduled tee times means a much quicker turn around - meaning sleep was on the agenda.  

"Interesting threesomes tomorrow. We usually ‑‑ the reward is for playing hard and doing all the things correctly you get a nice little sleep in come Sunday, but that's not going to be the case. We've got to get up early and get after it.

"it's an early start tomorrow so I'll get the mind and body ready for tomorrow and get after it a little bit earlier than we're used to."

He is currently two shots behind Molinari, and will tee off with the Open Champion and Tony Finau at 9:20 / 14:20 (BST). 

Severe weather forecasted means Sunday groups are off in threes and both tees

Given the possibility of severe weather Sunday afternoon, groupings and tee times for the final round have been adjusted, meaning there will be three players in the final group: Francesco Molinari, Tony Finau and Tiger Woods.

Players will be grouped in threesomes with tee times scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. The leaders will tee off at 9:20 a.m.

"The safety of everyone on our grounds is paramount," said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament.

"We also believe the earlier start will give us the best opportunity to complete the Masters on Sunday. This decision should benefit everyone – the players, our patrons and our fans watching around the world. Given the competitiveness and drama of this year's Tournament, we look forward to an exciting conclusion tomorrow."

Click here for a full list of pairings and tee times 

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History at Augusta as three players card rounds of 64 for first time ever at the Masters

For the first time in tournament history there were multiple rounds of 64 or lower at the Masters. And they all happened during the third round on Saturday at Augusta National.

After heavy rainfall earlier in the week and persistent showers during the the first few days. the normal defences at Augusta were down, and players took advantage of the softer course conditions and slower greens on their way to making history.

At one stage in the day the course record of 63 looked to be in certain danger as players from all over the course began to get on birdie-runs, but in the end the low round of day would be a very significant 64.

It may not have been the course record, but Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Tony Finau all ensured they would put their names in the history books: Until today, there had never been more than one round of 64 or better during the entire week at the Masters.

Click here to read the full story

history at the masters: tony finau

Biggest Masters pay-out ever as prize fund increase announced for 2019

The total prize money for those professionals competing in the 2019 Masters Tournament has been announced as $11,500,000, which is an increase in $500,000 from 2018.

Last year, champion Patrick Reed received $1.98 million for his first major victory, but this year's winner will get over $2million for the first time in history.

Click here for a full breakdown of the pay out for each position

Eddie Pepperell: What it's like to play with Augusta marker (and Masters legend) Jeff Knox

Eddie Pepperell was the first man out in round three of the Masters, and it meant a welcomed tradition for the Englishman: a tee time with marker Jeff Knox.

Knox, who has become something of a legendary figure at Augusta National, has played with (and beaten) some of the best names in the game - including the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

His expertise around the Masters course has also led players like Justin Thomas and McIlroy to seek out his advice, but what is it like to play with him?

"I wasn't sure I was playing with him until I saw him on the range hitting balls, actually," Pepperell explained, as rumoured reports on social media speculated it would be another player rather than Knox teeing up on Saturday.

"And then I saw him swinging it and I thought I'm in trouble. Yeah, he has a really nice swing, I mean the course is probably a little too long for him at this point, but man he's a good player and his short game was brilliant. And he was nice, really good to play with, actually, so dare I say it, he's the friendliest professional that I ever played with.

"I heard it was going to be someone, so that, you know, it's quite nice, I always thought I would just go out on my own and get it over with in two hours but it is nice to have company actually, and especially someone like Jeff because there's no pressure on him, obviously he's, you can talk as much or as little as you like and I like to talk on the course, so he's perfect. "

Did you get the better of him, Pepperell was asked?

"I did, I did beat him, so you can actually report that," said Pepperell after a level-par 72. "I don't want you to miss that. Going around I did beat him. Which makes me better than Rory McIlroy, apparently."

eddie pepperell

Amateurs show they belong on the big stage 

Of the record breaking 65 players to make the cut for the third round at the Masters, four of them were amateurs, and on Saturday, three of them were under par for their rounds and beat their playing partners. 

But more than under par rounds, all four players have showcased just how big the depth of talent there is in the game. 

Lets put it in perspective: By already making the cut, Hovland, Ortiz, Kanaya and Bling had already performed better in the first major of the year than World No.1 Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Wallace - to name but a few. 

Here's how they stand heading in to the final round. 

T31 (-2) Viktor Hovland: A 71 was enough for Hovland to beat playing partner Jimmy Walker's 72 on Saturday, and he now sits just outside the top 30 with first round leader Bryson DeChambeau, Marc Leishman and Kevin Kisner on -2. 

T39 (-1) Takumi Kanaya: Kanaya was paired with major champion Zach Johnson on Saturday and beat him by five shots thanks to a four-under 68. He's now T39 at -1 with Rory McIlroy.

T47 (+1): Alvaro Ortiz: Matching playing partner Kevin Na's one-over 73 today, Ortiz is +1 for the tournament and T47 with last year's Masters champion Patrick Reed.

T50 (+2): Devon Bling: Teeing up with another major champion, this time Martin Kaymer, Bing posted a 71 (to Kaymer's 72), and is in a tie for 50th with European and PGA Tour champions Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tyrrell Hatton and Keith Mitchell.