Little mistakes lead to a big deficit for Justin Thomas after three rounds at Masters
A sloppy back nine Saturday means Justin Thomas needs a heroic Sunday and help from leader Dustin Johnson to win the 2020 Masters Tournament.
Trailing by two shots after a par save from the right trees on No. 11, Thomas bogeyed four of the final seven holes in a 71 that leaves him six shots out of the lead entering the final round.
“Disappointing about wraps it up,” Thomas said. “I played beautifully today that’s probably what’s most frustrating. I hit the ball so flush, hit a lot of shots exactly the way I wanted. Just one of those days where stuff didn’t go my way … a couple of yards here or there.”
Thomas’ tee shot on the par-3 12th sailed long after the wind switched slightly mid-flight. He failed to save par from the back fringe. After a birdie on 13, he made bogey from the fairway on 14, missing long again. From 209 yards out in the fairway on the 15th, Thomas hooked his 5-iron over the green into the pond and made bogey on the third-easiest hole at Augusta National Golf Club.
“As soon as it flew the green, I knew it was gone. But that was a scenario where, if there's no water there, it's a perfect 6 iron. I just hit it hard.That was kind of another instance where the wind is kind of off the right, and it just kind of gives it a little bit of help, and when I turned it like that, it goes a little farther,” he said. “But it wasn't a good golf shot. It very easily could have not gone in the water as well if it would have landed up top. Yeah, just was poor execution of a 5 iron.”
Thomas hit eight greens in regulation on the first nine and made the turn in 2 under despite missing birdie putts inside 10 feet at No. 1 and No. 3 and failing to birdie the par-5 8th.
With most of the leaders opting for a 3-wood off the 10th tee, Thomas chose driver and crushed his tee shot 342 yards. He hit the approach to 12 feet and drained the putt for birdie. A sharp wedge set up the par at 11 but a slight wind change led to his demise at 12.
His 9-iron from 151 yards flew over the flagstick and landed three yards over the green.
“That was one of my best swings of the day,” he said. “The wind just switched a little bit. When you’re hitting to a target that small and narrow, playing a skosh of hurt and it goes the other way it’s the difference in four or five yards. I still had it in a great position to make par. I hit a really beautiful shot.”
He and the other followers must chase down Johnson without any help from the typical Sunday roars at Augusta National.
“You know, unfortunately for all of us chasing D.J. is there's no fans or nothing to make that moment even harder, to have the buzz, to have the adrenaline, to have a little bit more pressure put on him that won't be there this year,” Thomas said. “So it's going to take something pretty special for me to have a chance tomorrow, but I know I can do it. It's just about doing it.”