With four points ahead of his first pursuers, the American is in a strong position to afford a second Major after the 2016 US Open. This will require him to defeat his old demons, he who has failed four times. while leading after 54 holes in a Grand Slam. Author of a heavy 76 (+4), Victor Perez points to 52nd place at +1.
By signing for the second time in three rounds a card of 65 (-7) without the slightest bogey – no one in the history of the Masters had achieved such a feat until then – Dustin Johnson offered himself the possibility of taking on for the first time the green jacket promised to the winner of the Masters. Thanks to a score of 200 (-16), the American is indeed four points ahead of a trio of pursuers made up of the South Korean Sungjae Im, the Mexican Abraham Ancer and the Australian Cameron Smith. The South African Dylan Frittelli, only fifth, is five lengths behind (-11) while Justin Thomas, sixth, is six strokes away. Tiger Woods? A 72 (par) without much relief (two birdies, two bogeys) sends the future former title holder to twentieth place at -5 (211).
»READ ALSO – Masters of Augusta: relive the film from day 3
Never has the current world No. 1 been so close to winning here at the Augusta National Golf Club. The man is clearly in good shape. You only have to consult his latest results to say that we have in all likelihood the future winner. Second in the USPGA last August; winner of the Northern Trust, first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs; second in the BMW Championship; winner of the TOUR Championship, final of the same FedEx Cup playoffs; sixth at the US Open; second in the Houston Open, a week before the Masters…
However, in the not so distant past, this same Dustin Johnson has already found himself in the shoes of a leader of a Grand Slam tournament after 54 holes. Four times more precisely. And four times he found a way to fail. We especially remember his self-destruction at the 2010 US Open in Pebble Beach (California) where he signed a terrible 82 to finally finish in fifth place … Can he once again get through?
»READ ALSO – Masters 2020 : le leaderboard complet
In view of his performance for three rounds in this 84th edition of a Masters unlike any other, we would tend to answer in the negative. From day one, he seems to have mastered his subject perfectly. His ability to chain birdies, as was again the case this Saturday with his passage from 2 to 7 where he slams an eagle then three birdies, suggests that the winner of the US Open 2016 (his only success in Major ) is armed to face his old demons. The proof with for example these 47 greens taken in regulation in 54 holes (87% of success), coming here to titillate the record of Tiger Woods (48) achieved in 2001, the year of his victory at Augusta (the famous Tiger Slam) .
“I did exactly what I wanted to do, confirmed the person at a press conference just after his 65 of the day. I positioned myself where I wanted throughout the course, and yet it was not easy, but with more flexible conditions (especially on the greens), I was able to hit some nice shots. As was the case with my eagle on 2 before my birdies on 3 and 4. This start clearly put me in the best shape for the rest of the day. I feel good on this course which is more flexible with the rains at the beginning of the week. You can afford to be more aggressive, so to attack the flags more easily… For tomorrow? I think I have a plan that works. I have great confidence in what I do. I’m just going to go on the course and play the best I can. There are some very good players around me and we all know that if we believe in it, we can make low scores. I need to tell myself that I’m going to give my all and have a great day of golf if I want to win tomorrow (Sunday). If I play like today, I will stop this damn series… ”
Victor Perez, a failed third round
In front of him, the competition took a hell of a blow to the head. Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood are eight points behind. Patrick Reed and Jon Rahm, one of the big losers of this Moving day with his 72, are seven lengths behind. Justin Thomas, sixth at -10, is perhaps the only one who can reverse the established order, due to his experience (winner of the USPGA 2017) and his ability to bounce back, despite the big blow to morale after his 71 ( -1). What to think finally of Dylan Frittelli, Cameron Smith, Abraham Ancer or Sungjae Im? The last two discover the Masters for the first time when Frittelli did not pass the cut for his first in 2018. The danger for DJ could finally come from Cameron Smith, fifth in 2018, author this Saturday of a 69 (- 3) error free. But does he have the shoulders strong enough to attack excessively and instill doubt in the brain of his main opponent?
Too bad Victor Perez, the only Frenchman hired this week in Augusta, did not climb higher in the fight. Owner of a 76 (+4), the Tarbais had nevertheless hinted at great things during 36 holes but his start of the third round (since the 10th) annihilated everything: five bogeys on the first leg (against a single birdie). Such a start is not forgiving, especially for a first in Augusta. One thing is certain, the current 36th player in the world will seek to rectify the situation this Sunday. He is expected once again on the tee from 10 at 9:07 am local (3:07 pm in France) in the company of the Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick and the winner of the 2007 edition of the Masters, the American Zach Johnson.