(Okay, before I begin, I need to address what I wrote yesterday, which was that in the final pairing of the third round, Rory McIlroy would post a better score than Jordan Spieth. Didn't happen. Spieth went +1 and McIlroy went +5 yesterday. Don't ever say that I brush my bad calls under the rug.)
Here's your leader board as we await the beginning of the Final Round of The Masters:
-3 Jordan Spieth
-2 Smylie Kaufman
-1 Bernhard Langer, Hideki Matsuyama
E Jason Day, Dustin Johnson
+1 Lee Westwood, Soren Kjeldsen, Brandt Snedeker
+2 Daniel Berger, Rory McIlroy
I only went that deep on the leader board in order to show Rory McIlroy. His +5 yesterday puts him five strokes off the lead, not an impossible lead to overcome, but he would also have to jump over ten golfers to win. McIlroy's quest for the career Grand Slam will have to wait until 2017.
The high scores are a function of the winds that laced Augusta National over the last three days, and for me, at least, that has reduced the enjoyment of the tournament this year. I like seeing guys making birdies at The Masters, having eagle chances on thirteen and fifteen, and going low. I don't enjoy seeing best players in the world struggling to make par. However, forecasts call for calmer conditions today, so that could make today a lot of fun to watch. I plan on wearing a groove in the couch today from 2:00 until the ceremony in Butler Cabin, as I am sure many of you will.
I believe that the winner will come from among the six players currently at even par or better:
Jordan Spieth - I got home from Mass last night with Spieth at -5 and enjoying a four shot lead after sixteen holes. Had he parred out, I would say that today was a forgone conclusion, but he went bogey, double bogey on 17 and 18, and now it's all up for grabs. Of course, if the winds die down as predicted, he could shoot a 64 or 65 and slam the door on everyone else. Still, how Spieth bounces back from that terrible finish yesterday will tell us an awful lot about how he plays the game between his ears.
Smylie Kaufman - Okay, raise your hand if you had heard of Smylie Kaufman before this week? Oh, you folks with your hands raised? I don't believe you. I found this brief story on the 24 year old Kaufman this morning...
...and honestly, how can you not root for this kid?
Bernhard Langer - The presence of the 58 year old Langer in this group is an even bigger surprise than that of young Mr. Kaufman, and a third green jacket for Langer would be one heck of a story, but I don't see it happening. Plus, and nothing against Langer, who by all accounts is a great guy, I don't want to see anyone supplanting Jack Nicklaus as the oldest Masters Champion.
Hideki Matsuyama - All three of his Masters rounds have been par or better. No one else can make that claim.
Jason Day - The world's Number One ranked player was one of only five players under par yesterday. I see him making a run at the lead today.
Dustin Johnson - As long as I have been writing this Blog, I have been predicting Majors wins for Johnson, and he always seems to fold on Sundays. Maybe this will be his time.
PREDICTION: I see Jason Day, in the third to last pairing putting on a big surge and pressuring Spieth. If the conditions are mild, wind-wise, I see low scores from Spieth, Day, and Johnson. In the end, regardless of weather conditions, I call for a win for.....
As always, watch, but don't bet.