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Sunday’s Masters Plan: End the Third Round, Play the Fourth, Crown a Winner. Possibly Dry Out, Too.


AUGUSTA, Ga. — Sometime on Sunday evening — weather permitting, because all the pieces during this Masters Tournament appears to be like that — Brooks Koepka or Jon Rahm or one in every of 52 other players will get to wear the jacket they really need to during this trip to Augusta National Golf Club.

It’s green.

Saturday’s weather threw the tournament into fastidiously managed havoc, with the third round scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. Koepka, Rahm and Sam Bennett were to try to complete the seventh hole, which they were playing within the 3 p.m. hour on Saturday when conditions became too poor to proceed. If all goes in keeping with Augusta National’s plan, the ultimate round will tee off at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, with the 54 players paired up and playing from the primary and tenth tees.

Augusta National, searching for to avoid its first Monday Masters finish since 1983, used the same approach in 2019’s fourth round, when weather led groups of three to start out from two tees.

Tee times, after all, are only a part of Augusta’s weather war plan. The club also has a highly sophisticated, sort-of-secret weapon: an unlimited, subterranean system generally known as SubAir that pulls moisture away from the golf course’s greens and fairways. The system has many functions, including pumping fresh air to help with the basis structure of the grass. But when heavy rainfall strikes, it could actually siphon rainwater away from the central areas of the course to places on the property which can be more more likely to be out of play.

Players love the SubAir system because it could actually keep the speed of a course’s devilish greens consistent despite a downpour, in addition to make fairways drier, which results in harder landing surfaces and longer drives off the tee. The system emits a low hum, a sound the highest players have come to understand.

“They simply turn it on,” Viktor Hovland marveled last 12 months, “and overnight it’s a very different golf course.”

Let’s be honest: It’s virtually certain that Fred Couples won’t win the Masters this 12 months. He might even finish last, or near it. But Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, continues to be in the sector, which is greater than a few of his (much) younger counterparts can say.

At 63, he’s the oldest player ever to make the Masters cut.

“There really isn’t a secret,” Couples said. “Everyone loves this place. That doesn’t mean you’re going to play well. If I hit it really solid, I’m a very good iron player.”

Couples, who has lifetime playing privileges on the Masters due to his 1992 win, last played the third and fourth rounds in 2018, when he finished in a tie for thirty eighth. His last top-10 finish got here in 2010, when he placed sixth.

“I’m excited to make the cut,” he said. “That’s why I come here. The last 4 years have been really mediocre golf — possibly one 12 months I used to be semi-close to creating the cut — but that’s my objective, and I did it. It’s not like, ‘Ha, ha, ha. Now I can screw around and play 36 holes for fun.’ I’m going to attempt to compete. Play a very good pairing with some younger guys and watch them play.”

Indeed, he knows he’ll compete only a lot. He’s superb with that.

“I can’t compete with Viktor Hovland or Jon Rahm or anybody, but I can compete with myself, and that’s really why I come,” he said.

There continues to be loads of third-round golf to play, however the round has not delivered as much of the movement that players want: Only 11 improved their scores. Three — Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick and Sungjae Im — picked up three strokes. Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion, improved by two, and Koepka brightened his rating by one.

Phil Mickelson stays at 4 under par for the tournament after bogeying two of the last three holes before play was suspended on Saturday. Justin Rose began the round at 4 under, got to 6 under and was back to 4 under when everyone headed indoors.

Dustin Johnson, who won the tournament in 2020 with the bottom rating within the competition’s history, is six over for the round, putting him in a tie for 51st at five over.

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