Australia’s odds of keeping the green jacket have lengthened but the dream isn’t quite over after Adam Scott and John Senden battled hard during the third round of the Masters.
With the famous greens getting harder and faster by the second at Augusta National, the Australian duo dropped down the leaderboard but remain in the mix if they can find some Sunday magic.
Senden fired a three-over-par 75 to drop to one-under-par for the week, falling from second outright to a tie for 10th, but just four shots off the lead.
Defending champion Scott struggled royally to a four-over 76, dropping him from a tie for third into a share of 16th at one-over.
Young American phenomenon Jordan Spieth, in his first Masters at just 20 years of age, signed for a two-under 70 to take the lead at five-under.
The Texan is looking to become the first debut winner since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 and the youngest ever winner of the green jacket, besting Tiger Woods’ effort as a 21-year-old in 1997.
Overnight leading American and 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson joined Spieth at the top, dropping back into a tie after a 74.
American Matt Kuchar (68) and Swede Jonas Blixt (71) will attempt to capture their first major title from a shot back at four-under, tied third.
Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez produced the round of the tournament with a 66 to move into a tie for fifth with American Ricky Fowler (67).
“I just kind of compounded my mistakes early with a couple three-putts and got me off on the wrong foot,” Scott said.
“And with conditions being so hard, when you’re on the back foot, this is a very hard course to pull shots in, even with opportunities at 13 and 15, I didn’t manage to do it.
“I just fought really hard but I couldn’t get any of those early shots back. I’m disappointed, but a good round tomorrow could go a long, long way.”
With six shots between the Queenslander and the lead, Scott will need to overcome a margin only reeled in three times in Masters history.
He will also face the fact no one has come from outside the top 10 since Art Wall Jr in 1959.
“I’m going to have to come out and play a really good front nine,” Scott said.
“That’s my goal at this point. I’ve just got to look at the front nine and if I can shoot a few under on the front, you never know what can happen here on the back and it would be fun to post a number and sit in the clubhouse and watch.”
He will at least have a familiar face to play with, paired with Jason Day, who is a shot further back at two-over after a two-under 70, the best of the Australians on moving day.
Senden dropped four shots in the opening seven holes but hung tough to give himself a chance at a maiden major.
“Even though my score was going in the wrong direction, I was still feeling pretty good about myself,” he said.
“I was still hanging around even par and then I got some really nice birdies on eight and nine, which put me back in position.
“Then I felt like I played quite well on the back nine as well, but just didn’t drive the ball quite well enough coming down the stretch. I still believe that I’ve got a chance tomorrow.”
Steven Bowditch shot a 74 to be four-over and tied 29th while amateur Oliver Goss shot 76 to be seven-over tied 42nd on his 20th birthday.