Rahm narrows Koepka’s lead as Masters moves into wet third round

Sunday, Apr 09, 2023

AUGUSTA: After a rainy night in Georgia, Spain’s Jon Rahm returned to a wet and windy Augusta National and narrowed overnight leader Brooks Koepka’s advantage to two strokes.

Rahm, one of the 39 players who had to complete their delayed second rounds on Saturday, had been within a shot of Koepka before bogeying the final hole.

Five-times Masters winner Tiger Woods managed to battle through the wet and windy conditions to make the cut at three-over par 147 after shooting a one-over 73, but Rory McIlroy was among the big names to miss out on the final two rounds.

The second round completed and the cut made, the third round got under way at 11:30 a.m. with threesomes off split tees in a bid to complete the round before sunset.

But conditions will be challenging for those chasing the green jacket.

“The golf course is obviously going to play a lot longer. If it rains more, greens are going to slow down. You have to judge whether the ball is going to skip or just kind of plop,” said Patrick Reed, who is on three-under after a second round 70.

“It’s just going to be a guessing game when you’re out there. You have to kind of know what you want to do, where you want to leave the ball.”

Spaniard Rahm had an eventful session back on course, making birdies on the par-3 12th and par-5 15th before, in driving rain, he bogeyed by three-putting the par-3 16th.

The world number three quickly made amends on the par-4 17th, where he rolled in a six-foot putt from the fringe for birdie.

Three-putting the final hole, however, left Rahm on 10-under 134 overall after shooting rounds of 65 and 69 as he targets a second major win to follow his 2021 triumph at the US Open.

Friday’s play had been cut short after stormy weather descended on Augusta National, with three of the course’s trademark tall pine trees blowing over.

Organizers said that no spectators had been injured by the falling trees and while there was wind and the rain continued to fall on Saturday, there was no sign of thunder or lightning, which would halt play.

Temperatures have dropped sharply in the area, falling from 87 degrees F (30.5 C) in the bright sunshine of the opening round to 50 (10) who had to come back out to complete their rounds.

The rain, which continued during the night, had further softened an already damp Augusta course, slowing down the usually rapid greens.

Four-time major winner Koepka, who plays on the breakaway LIV Golf series, is the man to catch after an outstanding opening two rounds.

At 118th in the world, Koepka would be the lowest-ranked player to win the Masters since the rankings system was introduced in 1986.

The current holder of that distinction is Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who was ranked 69th when he won the green jacket in 2009.

McIlroy shot a five over-par 77 with seven bogeys on Friday, leaving him 17 strokes behind pace-setter Koepka and condemned to his second missed Masters cut in three years.

Sandy Lyle, the first British player to win the Masters in 1988, had been forced to leave the course on Friday whilst on the 18th green in his last Masters.

The Scotsman returned to putt out his round in 83 after his opening round 81 and received an emotional farewell from spectators who had flocked to the green.