Jon Rahm has title in sights as Masters heads for thrilling climax at Augusta

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The former US Open champion began the day four shots behind Brooks Koepka.
Posted on
April 9, 2023
by
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Jon Rahm had a second major title in his sights as the 87th Masters headed for a thrilling climax at Augusta National.

Forty years after Seve Ballesteros claimed his second green jacket, and on what would have been his 66th birthday, Rahm had the chance to become the fourth Spanish winner after Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia.

The former US Open champion began the day four shots behind Brooks Koepka, but had cut that gap in half by the time the pair had completed their delayed third rounds on Sunday morning.

And as Koepka began to struggle in round four, Rahm moved into a two-shot lead over a chasing pack including former winners Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed.

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm celebrates after a putt on the sixth hole during the final round of the Masters (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Almost three hours after finishing round three, the last pair of Rahm and Koepka got their final round under way in nervous fashion.

Koepka’s pulled tee shot was so far wide that he played his second shot from the ninth fairway, but he fired a superb approach over the pine trees and safely two-putted from long range for par.

Rahm’s chip from right of the green caught the edge of the hole as it ran past, but the Spaniard holed the par putt from eight feet and moved to within a shot of his playing partner with a birdie from 10 feet on the third.

With Koepka unable to save par from a greenside bunker on the par-three fourth, the final pair were tied for the lead and seemingly back in a two-horse race as Viktor Hovland took four to get down from just over the sixth green.

The same hole also cost Koepka a second bogey in the space of three holes to leave Rahm in the outright lead, a remarkable turn of events given that he started the week by four-putting the opening hole on Thursday.

The only player to win the Masters after starting with a double bogey was Sam Snead in 1952.

Rahm doubled his advantage with a birdie on the par-five eighth, the world number three hitting a sublime pitch from the front of the green to tap-in distance.

Mickelson had set the clubhouse target on eight under par after a superb 65, the oldest men’s major winner in history looking to break his own record with a seventh major title at the age of 52.

Koepka enjoyed a four-shot lead overnight, but had been facing a par putt on the seventh green when play was suspended on Saturday afternoon, with Rahm closer to the hole in two.

Koepka missed and Rahm holed from nine feet to halve his deficit, before both players birdied the par-five eighth and also missed the green on the par-three 12th as a swirling wind made club selection difficult.

Rahm enjoyed a fortunate bounce back towards the green and two-putted for par despite a sizeable amount of mud on his ball, but Koepka three-putted from long range to see his lead cut to a single shot.

However, it was Rahm’s turn to three putt on the very next hole, the world number three coming up well short with his approach and then charging his lengthy birdie putt six feet past the hole.

Koepka enjoyed a massive stroke of luck when his approach to the 15th looked set to spin back off the green and into the water, but the soft conditions meant his ball stopped on the bank.

Rahm had found the green in two on the par five, but three-putted from almost 100 feet and then bogeyed the 16th to fall three shots behind.

Trouble on the greens was seemingly catching though, Koepka needing three putts from just 24 feet on the 17th to see his lead cut to two shots ahead of the final round.

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