Garcia credits clear mind for good Masters showing so far

Rickie Fowler. Jordan Spieth.

Spieth won the Masters two years ago and was runner-up last year after losing a five-shot lead on the back nine.

But with the exception of Rose rising and Hoffman and Pieters falling (Hoffman held the lead most of the day until he hit his tee shot into the water at No. 16 and made a double-bogey), most of the contenders starting the day were right where they wanted to be ending it. In 2015, when Spieth tied a scoring record at 18-under par, he shot two-under par in his final round.

If you are into sentiment or karma, then Garcia is your man. Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of the birth of Seve Ballesteros, the greatest golfer from Garcia's native Spain and a two-time Masters victor.

And his Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia, who will "have a great opportunity".

Garcia revealed that Olazabal sent him a message on the Wednesday night, which he said meant a lot to him.

"So new experience for me, coming from behind on Sunday at the Masters, which is kind of fun to say". But you know, it's been good.

If you are into the alleged Renaissance of English golfers, then Rose is your man.

Pieters has a chance to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the Masters on his initial try. No player has made more than 7 on a hole and won the green jacket.

Fowler is looking for his first major title.

"It's always a nice to be a part of history", Rose added a moment later.

Garcia is mindful of the fact that Sunday would have been the 60th birthday of two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros, the most famous of all Spanish golfers who naturally is idolized by the co-leader, along with another two-time victor at Augusta, Jose Maria Olazabal.

In between is 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott (69), who had one of only two bogey-free rounds and is 3-under. His 71 left him six strokes back.

The sun has been out all day, hardening greens that had been soft and receptive earlier in the week. "I just stayed with it and everything began to click into gear on the back nine".

"You have to be patient", Fowler said. It's tough protecting a lead on this golf course, because it's one where you need to play aggressive to win.

"There's wonderful story lines", Rose said, and his is one.

"In order to win this tournament you have to play to win". While all eyes were on Hoffman's struggles and Garcia's scrambling, he mostly escaped notice until he birdied Nos.

"I just, you know, "what would Arnie do" was my way of expressing it to Michael, which we all know is exactly what he would have done". Ten holes, five birdies - good enough for a spot in the second-to-last pairing Sunday.

Rose and Garcia wound up tied for the lead Saturday on a tense afternoon that set the stage for a Masters finale up for grabs.

His back nine was filled with pars except on the two par 5s.

On No. 13, Garcia thought he put his second shot in the water that guards the green. According to legend, a player who believed he'd been wiped out walked away from the table, then noticed a single chip on his seat and promptly parlayed it into a win.

"I've been in the lead for 36 holes and more than that, nearly all of today", he said, still smiling after the third round. "Thirteen obviously was one of them". I felt like I could have shot 65 quite easily. "I didn't just hit the ball up and down or make the putts I needed to".

"I played nicely on the front".

While much of the attention was on Spieth's charge, Rose went about his business in typically unassuming fashion.

The Texan was 10 shots adrift of Hoffman's lead after round one, largely courtesy of that nine on 15, but he has made steady progress through the field. He led after the first round in 2013 before finishing in a tie for eighth, one of just three top-10 finishes at the Masters. His third-round 68 matched the second-lowest of the day.

Rose will tee off with Garcia in Sunday's final group, with the pair trying to fend off Rickie Fowler, who is alone in third place.

So it's worth asking, as he prepares to play in the final group on the final day of the Masters for the first time: What's your relationship with this place?

  • Julie Sanders