Home Sports Johnson pulls away to four-stroke lead

Johnson pulls away to four-stroke lead

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Im and Ancer, seeking debutant-winner record, share second with Smith; Woods tied 20th

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson seized command of the Masters on Saturday, matching the 54-hole record at Augusta National and grabbing a four-stroke lead in quest of a second Major title.

Pulling away from an elite field, the 36-year-old American fired a seven-under 65 to be 16-under 200 after three rounds. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in everything I’m doing,” Johnson said.

Johnson is the first player to shoot 65 or better twice in the same Masters after a first-round 65.

Im Sung-jae, a 22-year-old South Korean who could become the first debut Masters winner since 1979, closed with a birdie to shoot 68 and share second on 204 with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, another Augusta newcomer, and Australia’s Cameron Smith.

Im could become only the second Asian man to win a Major after South Korean Yang Yong-eun at the 2009 PGA Championship. Johnson, the 2016 US Open champion, is trying to become the first top-ranked golfer to win the Masters since Tiger Woods in 2002.

Woods soldiers on

Defending champion Woods, who began four strokes off the pace, battled through back pain to shoot 72 and stand on 211, answering bogeys at the par-5 eighth and par-4 11th with birdies at the par-3 12th and the par-5 15th.

Woods, a 15-time Major winner who turns 45 next month, seeks a sixth green jacket and an 83rd career PGA Tour victory to break the record he shares with Sam Snead.

McIlroy fades

Fifth-ranked Rory McIlroy, needing only a green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam, shot 67 to stand on 208, but sees little hope of swiping the green jacket.

“Being a realist here, I just need to go out and shoot a good one tomorrow and see where it puts me,” McIlroy said. “But I have zero thoughts about winning this golf tournament right now.”

US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, who many thought would overwhelm Augusta National with his power-driving game, tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday after feeling dizzy on the course. He shot 69 on Saturday to stand on 213.

The scores: 200: Dustin Johnson (65, 70, 65); 204: Im Sung-jae (66, 70, 68), Abraham Ancer (68, 67, 69), Cameron Smith (67, 68, 69); 205: Dylan Frittelli (65, 73, 67).

206: Justin Thomas (66, 69, 71); 207: Sebastian Munoz (70, 68, 69), Patrick Reed (68, 68, 71), Jon Rahm (69, 66, 72).

208: Rory McIlroy (75, 66, 67), Brooks Koepka (70, 69, 69), Tommy Fleetwood (71, 66, 71), Hideki Matsuyama (68, 68, 72).

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