Rose, Garcia lead with Fowler, Spieth looming near top

Rickie Fowler is three shots behind, while Charl Schwartzel is another stroke back. "We kind of knew that we were being tested at that point in the tournament", he said.

Spieth was joined at four-under 212 by fellow-Americans Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman, the journeyman who led the tournament after a sparkling first-round 65 but dropped three shots over Saturday's closing holes to slip down the leaderboard. He put his tee shot in the water on the par-3 16th, and he took two shots to get out of a bunker on the 17th.

In 11 Masters appearances, Casey now has five top-10 finishes and seven top-25 showings.

"It doesn't seem like it's burned him too much in the way he speaks about some of his close calls". He died in 2011 at age 54.

"I certainly know anything can happen on Sunday", said Spieth, referring to his collapse previous year. "It would be nice to have a chance and hopefully do it".

"A one-shot lead starting the day doesn't mean much", Rose said. His countryman Danny Willett won the Masters a year ago.

He summed up his rundown saying, "There's wonderful storylines". If he completes the largest comeback in Masters history, he would be the first major champion in 121 years (1896 British Open victor Harry Vardon) to erase a double-digit deficit. "I would have liked to be on the right part of it".

"It all happened on the last eight holes today and the patience I showed on the front nine was probably key on the back nine".

Saturday's round was like watching a high-level chess match, never quite sure who had the advantage.

The day started with Hoffman, Garcia, Fowler and Belgian-born Thomas Pieters at 4 under.

Phil Mickelson, playing with Spieth, shook up the grounds with a birdie-birdie start, but then double-bogeyed the third and watched the air leave the balloon.

"It's been such a long time coming", said Garcia, who missed a five-foot putt for the win at the end of regulation before rolling in a 12-foot birdie to claim victory on the first extra hole.

The two-time Utah State Amateur victor finished the front nine with back-to-back birdies to shoot even-par 36 going into his final turn, and his approach shot on the 13th hole trickled set up an eagle putt to go below par. He shot a respectable 71 but lost ground and is six shots back in his pursuit of the final leg of a career Grand Slam.

Fowler floundered early, standing 1 over for the day through the 10th.

"We've been having a blast this week", Fowler said. "It's heightened even more, just because you can hear what's going on around you", McIlroy said about the roars and groans of Augusta's massive galleries. "You know, you can put yourself in bad positions even trying to play the safe spot".

Garcia birdied the fifth and sandwiched a birdie at the par-5 eighth between bogeys but added birdies at the par-5 13th and 15th and parred in, sinking a testy six footer at the last.

Garcia was steady Saturday with a 2-under 70. It was his highest score in 79 rounds at Augusta National. And for those counting, he has gone 74 majors without a win.

His back nine was filled with pars except on the two par 5s. He took a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie, as Rose hit his second shot just over the green for what looked like an easy up-and-down birdie.

Rose managed to make a birdie, but it wasn't enough to keep the lead.

The 23-year-old safely negotiated the 12th on his return 12 months later, only to then stumble to a quadruple bogey on the 15th in an opening 75 which left him 10 shots behind Hoffman.

"I was not comfortable in the driving range, but after a couple of holes, I picked up confidence, started to hit some good shots and putted very well", Garcia told Efe.

There are other contenders and one of them might just be McIlory. I didn't feel like I hit a bad shot.

Spieth is in a real winning mindset right now. But the pitch was a poor one, racing 16 feet past the flag and leading to a bogey. The swashbuckling Arnold Palmer after all did not win four Green Jackets and 62 PGA Tour titles playing it safe. The resulting 67 matched his lowest score in the Masters. Fowler and Spieth in the penultimate group. It's a coin flip.

  • Julie Sanders