Dustin Johnson takes 4-shot lead into Masters final, SA’s Dylan Frittelli 5 back

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

Pulling away from an elite field at Augusta National, the 36-year-old American, who grew up only an hour’s drive from the course, fired a seven-under-par 65 to stand on 16-under-par 200 after three rounds.

Johnson went a career major best four-under in the first four holes, making a tap-in eagle at the par-5 second, curling in a six-footer for birdie at the third and sinking a long birdie putt at the fourth.

He added tap-in birdies at the par-4 seventh, par-5 13th and par-5 15th to equal the 54-hole mark set in 2015 by Jordan Speith.

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

Four-way chase

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.

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 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.

Rory McIlroy fades

Nine golfers shared the lead at one stage as Augusta National’s notorious undulating greens dried and quickened.

Smith, who closed with an eagle and three birdies to grab a share of the 36-hole lead, birdied 13, 14 and 15 to share second with Im and Ancer, who birdied 15 and 16 in a late charge.

South Africa’s 100th-ranked Dylan Frittelli shot a bogey-free 67 with birdies on all four par-5 holes to stand fifth on 205.

Another stroke adrift was third-ranked American Justin Thomas, who settled for 71 after a closing bogey.

Second-ranked Jon Rahm shared seventh on 207 with Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz and 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed.

Spaniard Rahm suffered a double-bogey disaster at the eighth, rallied with birdies on 14 and 15 but stumbled with a closing bogey.

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.

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

Third-round scores on Saturday at the 84th Masters at par-72 Augusta National Golf Club (a-denotes amateur; USA unless noted):

200 – Dustin Johnson 65-70-65

204 – Im Sung-jae (KOR) 66-70-68, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 68-67-69, Cameron Smith (AUS) 67-68-69

205 – Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 65-73-67

206 – Justin Thomas 66-69-71

207 – Sebastian Munoz (COL) 70-68-69, Patrick Reed 68-68-71, Jon Rahm (ESP) 69-66-72

208 – Rory McIlroy (NIR) 75-66-67, Brooks Koepka 70-69-69, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 71-66-71, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 68-68-72

209 – Patrick Cantlay 70-66-73

210 – Kevin Na 73-68-69, Cameron Champ 68-74-68, Paul Casey (ENG) 65-74-71, Corey Conners (CAN) 74-65-71, C.T. Pan (TPE) 70- 66-74

211 – Xander Schauffele 67-73-71, Webb Simpson 67-73-71, Tiger Woods 68-71-72, Scottie Scheffler 71-68-72, Shane Lowry 74-69-68, Danny Willett (ENG) 71-66-74

212 – Billy Horschel 70-70-72, Marc Leishman (AUS) 70-72-70, Matt Wallace (ENG) 69-73-70

213 – Adam Scott (AUS) 70-72-71, Lee Westwood (ENG) 68-74-71, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 68-70-75, Justin Rose (ENG) 67-70-76, Nick Taylor (CAN) 72-72-69, Bryson DeChambeau 70-74-69, Charl Schwartzel 73-71-69

214 – Bernhard Langer 68-73-73, Shugo Imahira (JPN) 72-70-72, Kim Si-woo (KOR) 70-71-73, Bubba Watson 74-69-71, a-Andy Ogletree 73-70-71, Ian Poulter (ENG) 72-71-71, Mike Weir (CAN) 71-72-71, Collin Morikawa 70-74-70

215 – Charles Howell 71-70-74, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 69-71-75, Rickie Fowler 70-70-75, Chez Reavie 71-72-72, Kang Sung (KOR) 75-69-71, Tony Finau 69-75-71

216 – a-John Augenstein 69-72-75, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) 69-73-74

217 – Victor Perez (FRA) 70-71-76, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 74-70-73, Zach Johnson 73-71-73, Jordan Spieth 74-70-73

218 – Phil Mickelson 69-70-79, Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) 73-71-74

220 – Jimmy Walker 71-73-76

221 – Brandt Snedeker 71-71-79, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 71-72-78

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