AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Jason Day was having a g’day at the Masters , and if he can finish it off, there’s going to be quite a celebration Down Under.
Day holed out an eagle from the bunker to claim a share of the lead with Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera, setting up a Sunday shootout at Augusta National that, in the early going, did not include Tiger Woods.
While others charged up the leaderboard, including 55-year-old Bernhard Langer, Woods was heading the wrong way. He started with four shaky pars before a three-putt bogey at the fifth knocked him back to 2 under — a daunting six shots behind the leaders.
The four-time Masters champion has never come from behind on the final day to win any of his 14 major titles. He had some extra strokes to overcome in this one after picking up a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop during the second round.
Woods will need his greatest comeback yet to pull it out.
Under overcast skies with increasingly heavy showers, some of the early finishers put up impressive scores — a sign the greens weren’t as slick as usual on a Sunday, setting up the potential for plenty of shuffling on an already crowded leaderboard.
Snedeker and Cabrera began the round tied for the top spot at 7-under 209, one stroke ahead of Adam Scott, who was trying to become the first Australian to win the green jacket. But it was another Aussie who surged to the lead at 8 under.
Shaking off the disappointment of closing the third round with two straight bogeys, Day rolled in a birdie putt at the very first hole. Then he pulled off a really memorable shot at the par-5 fifth. After going into the front bunker with his approach, he blasted out of the sand and watched it roll in for an eagle 3, thrusting his club toward the gray sky to celebrate.
Scott was two shots off the lead, while a third Aussie, Marc Leishman, was tied with England’s Lee Westwood at 4 under.
Langer, the two-time Masters champion, ripped off birdies at the first three holes to climb within three shots of the lead. But his bid to become golf’s oldest major champion stumbled with bogeys at the sixth and seventh holes.
Among those going out in the morning, Michael Thompson shot a 67, Ryo Ishikawa and Ryan Moore posted 68s, while Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley signed for 69s.
But it was a forgettable Masters for three-time winner Phil Mickelson. He closed with a 73 for a 297 — the second-worst score he’s ever posted at Augusta when making the cut. He had a 299 six years ago, but that was in much tougher conditions.
As for Guan Tianlang, time to get back to his homework.
He already gets an A for his first Masters.
The 14-year-old Chinese golfer wrapped up a memorable debut at Augusta National by shooting a 3-over 75, his experience not dampened in the least by a debated one-stroke penalty for slow play.
“It’s such a great week for me,” said Guan, the youngest player to make the cut at a major in the PGA era. “I learned a lot.”
Guan’s performance over four days was truly remarkable for the youngest player by far to play the Masters. He never had a three-putt on Augusta’s perilous greens — well, he counts one from off the green — and his worst hole was a bogey.
“I played pretty good,” he said. “I feel a little bit tired today. There are still a lot of things to improve. My short game’s good, but I still need to be better. My driver probably needs to be a little longer.”
Guan made a couple of birdies on the back side, but took a bogey at No. 17 after knocking at shot into a spectator’s plastic bag. At the final hole, he two-putted from about 40 feet for a 12-over 300, receiving a big cheer from the gallery and a handshake from Augusta National chairman Billy Payne.
Guan can’t take any prize money since he’s an amateur. But he’ll get a silver cup as the only amateur to make the cut.
There are no plans to turn pro anytime soon.
“It won’t be too early because there are still a lot of things to learn, to improve,” Guan said. “So nothing to rush.”
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