The Masters 2022: Scottie Scheffler still leads, Cameron Smith prowls, Tiger Woods limps home

The World No. 1 coasted through the front nine, but had to grind after the turn to hold onto the third round lead at Augusta National.

It was cold and breezy on Saturday at the Masters.

The players were wrapped up in gilets, snoods and woolly hats; the bones of Tiger Woods were creaking; and many of those watching on television and via social media were muttering that they were snoozing.

Moving Day wasn't really happening as Scottie Scheffler, five clear at the start of the third round, eased six clear through the turn.

The chasers had tried to make an impact, but they had got nowhere as the World No. 1 matched and bettered their every move in going 3-under for the front nine.

It all changed on the back nine, however.

Scheffler's playing partner Charl Schwartzel kicked things off, holing his second shot at the 495-yard for an eagle that immediately reduced the lead to five.

Within minutes, one of the leading pack, Shane Lowry, not only failed to make birdie at the par-5 13th, he actually made a bogey-6 and he was heard blaming his caddie for a poor option. No move on the leader, but plenty of drama.

Soon afterwards, Scheffler made three bogeys in four holes from the 12th.

Sungjae Im, who had needed 39 blows on the front nine, awoke from his slumber and returned home in 32.

Cameron Smith, brilliant in the first round, subdued in the second, rediscovered his mojo to card a best-of-the-day 68.

And then Scheffler hoicked his tee shot at the 18th into a bush on his way to making a final hole bogey, completing a 71 that had for so long looked like it would be much better.

The lead of six had diminished to three; the snoozers were taking note; what had threatened to become a Sunday procession instead will be a final day head-to-head between the two hottest golfers on the planet.

Three-time winner in 2021 Scheffler leads the tournament on 9-under 207 after rounds of 69-67-71. Two-time winner this year Smith is solo second on 6-under 210 (68-74-68).

The rest will harbour hopes, but in truth they need something special from the final pair to leave the clubhouse on Sunday afternoon.

Im is alone in third on 4-under, Lowry and Schwartzel are another two back on 2-under, and Justin Thomas and Corey Conners are the only other players in the field in red numbers on 1-under.

"I feel great," insisted Scheffler, a little less persuasively than after the second round. "I played some nice golf, made some errors, but I did well to finish under par.

"18 is a tough tee shot for a fader like me, but I didn't expect that. I was fortunate with the drop and played a good shot to the green. The five feels like a par.

"Victory tomorrow would mean a lot. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm just out there trying to execute shots."

After setting up his crack at a first Major Championship title Smith said: "It was really tough out there today. I did a good job of just staying within myself and staying patient with the course.

"I hit lots of quality iron shots and today the putts went in as well."

His plan for Sunday? "To be honest, I think I'll just try and keep it as simple as I can. Go home, have dinner, have a good rest, and just really focus on getting a good rest.

"Typically here on Sunday, especially the back nine, you can use the greens to your advantage and have plenty of birdie opportunities.

"I'll stay aggressive into the greens and just keep hitting quality shots."

Woods struggles

Tiger Woods had ended the second round in bullish mood, but he never got going in the chilly conditions on Saturday.

He made bogey at the first and soon after four-putted the fifth green for a double bogey. He also dropped four shots in the final three holes for a 78 that leaves him 7-over (223) for the week and T41st.

"I had a tough time," he admitted. "I felt like I didn't really hit it that bad, but I had four three-putts and a four-putt. It's just like I hit a thousand putts out there on the greens today. Obviously, it's affected the score.

"I did what I needed to do ball striking-wise, but I did absolutely the exact opposite on the greens. I just could not get a feel for getting comfortable with the ball. Posture, feel, my right hand, my release, I just couldn't find it."

Discussing his experience this week he added: "Never give up. Always chase after your dreams.

"I fight each and every day. Each and every day is a challenge. Each and every day presents its own different challenges for all of us. I wake up and start the fight all over again."

READ MORE: The Masters A to Z: From Anyone can win it to (Fuzzy) Zoeller via Eerie music and Jim Nantz

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