The Masters 2021: Matsuyama Takes Lead Into Final Round After Huge Day

It's been 10 years since Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama stood in the winner's circle at Augusta National Golf Club. He was the low amateur champion in 2011.

A decade later, he's the frontrunner to wear the green jacket as The Masters champion. Matsuyama shot 7-under par on Saturday, pulling away from the field and taking a commanding lead heading into Sunday's final. He will start Sunday with a four-shot lead over four golfers tied for second.

Matsuyama entered Saturday, otherwise known as moving day, at 4-under for the tournament and three shots behind two-day leader Justin Rose. Matsuyama made par on the first six holes, then got hot over the next dozen. He made a birdie on Hole 7 that took him into the turn, and the birdied on 11 and 12, made an eagle on 15, and then followed with back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17. He didn't bogey the entire day.

Matsuyama has made an eagle on each of the first three rounds—three for the tournament—against just four bogeys through three days. He has won five PGA events in his career. His best Masters finish was fifth in 2015, and his best major finish was second at the 2017 U.S. Open.

Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan looks on from the second fairway during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2021 in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

American Will Zalatoris barely missed a birdie on the 18th hole that would have put him alone in second place, but he settled for par, putting him into a four-way tie at second place at 7-under.

Rose began the day with a pair of birdies to take him out to 9-under, but he bogeyed back-to-back at 4 and 5. He made a birdie at 12 to get back to 8-under, but then bogeyed at 16 to bring him back into a tie for second.

American Xander Schauffele gained four strokes on Saturday, climbing into a second-place tie with Rose, Zalatoris and Australian Marc Leishman at 7-under. Canadian Corey Conners is right behind them at 6-under for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth appeared to make a solid run in the third round, twice getting to 6-under par, and dropping a bogey to slip each time. Spieth finished the day at 5-under for the tournament.

The tournament began with hard, dry greens and fairways that made the ball move more quickly. Play was delayed because of rain on Saturday, and then resumed with players finishing the round as rain drizzled down, making the course heavier and slower.

Reigning champion Dustin Johnson did not make the weekend cut, but he will be on hand for Sunday's green jacket presentation at Butler Cabin. Johnson won the tournament just five months ago as the 2020 tournament was moved from April to November because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The November tournament had very few fans, but this year's Masters has a more robust crowd.