AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy’s wait to complete the career Grand Slam will extend into at least 2023.
His 14th Masters will not be the one where he gets the green jacket slipped over his shoulders. The four-time major championship winner — two PGA Championships, one British Open, one U.S. Open — shot a 1-under 71 on Saturday in the third round of the Masters.
That left him 1 over for the tournament and tied for ninth but 10 shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler.
“You’re just trying to go out and shoot the best score that you possibly can without being reckless and without taking on too much risk,” McIlroy said. “So, I’ll try to go out and do that tomorrow. I think I moved up a few places with that score today and just try to move up a few more tomorrow and try to get a top 10 and move on.”
McIlroy has had six top-10 finishes at the Masters, and that doesn’t even include 2011, when he led after three rounds but shot 80 on Sunday to freefall all the way to a tie for 15th. He missed the cut last year.
“It’s just hard to go very low out there,” McIlroy said. “Anything under par is a good score. It’s just blustery. There’s no easy birdies. Even the par 5's aren’t. Usually they’re sort of, not guaranteed 4’s, but you feel like they’re holes that you would likely pick shots up on. ... Yeah, it’s been a tough couple of days, and I’ve just sort of hung in there as best as I could.”
EAGLES ON 10
Augusta National went 14 years between eagles on the 495-yard par-4 10th hole.
And then came two in the span of two days.
After Gary Woodland did it on Friday, Charl Schwartzel holed out from the fairway on Saturday. It was the 10th eagle on No. 10 in Masters history, and this is the first year in which that hole has been eagled twice.
The Masters winner gets a gold medal, a green jacket, a lifetime invitation back to Augusta National and a sterling silver trophy.
And this year, more money than anyone has ever won at the Masters.
Augusta National announced Saturday that the winner of this year’s tournament gets $2.7 million out of a total purse of $15 million. Both are tournament records.
It’s about a 30% increase over last year, when Hideki Matsuyama got $2.07 million from a purse of $11.5 million.
In terms of total dollars, it’s by far the biggest one-year increase in Masters history. Percentage-wise, the tournament saw a bigger jump from 1982 to 1983, when the purse and winner’s share both increased about 40%. The winner in 1982 got $64,000; the winner in 1983 got $90,000.
The Masters purse and first-place check now match what is offered at the first two stops of the FedEx Cup Playoffs — the St. Jude Championship and the BMW Championship.
The lack of Georgia Peach ice cream at the start of this year’s Masters — supply chain issues were blamed — was a bit of a story at Augusta National earlier in the week.
Might not have been a big seller on Saturday anyway.
Ski hats, mittens, gloves and hand warmers were part of various ensembles on an unseasonably cold Saturday at Augusta National. The temperature for much of the afternoon was in the upper 40s; the wind chill when leader Scottie Scheffler teed off at 2:50 p.m. was 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celcius), and some fans huddled under blankets as they watched.
“I’ve got five layers on,” Marc Leishman said after his round. “And I never even thought about taking any of them off. Yeah, you had to pack well for this week. Lucky enough, I had a good sponsor who sent me some stuff, and I was very warm.”
Collin Morikawa had a gaiter around his neck to try to stay warm. Scheffler kept putting a quilted vest on between shots.
“I’ve got four hand warmers,” Rory McIlroy said. “I’m getting soft. I’ve been living in Florida for too long now, so this is cold for me.”
Forecasters said frost was possible at Augusta National by early Sunday, though the high temperature on final-round day at the Masters is expected to reach the low 70s.
MESSING WITH TEXAS
The Masters Club dinner is held in Georgia, obviously. But it’s a Texan that has always presided over the festivities.
And if Scottie Scheffler hangs on Sunday at Augusta National, he’ll be the latest Texas man to etch himself into permanent Masters lore.
He could become the 10th Texan to win the Masters — which would extend the record for most from any U.S. state — and join Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Ralph Guldahl, Jackie Burke, Charles Coody, Ben Crenshaw, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed as winners at Augusta National.
Texas, in Reed’s estimation, is a great practice ground for the Masters.
“You have to be a shot maker,” Reed said. “I think that’s the biggest thing about this place. You never have a flat lie. You’re always having to create something whether it’s ball above feet, ball below feet, downhill lie, uphill lie. You’re having to do something. It’s never just a step-up driving range swing. It’s always having to manipulate it in some way. I feel like we’re able to do that really well.”
Winning the Masters gives someone the chance to pick the menu (and pay the bill) at the Masters Club dinner, commonly called the Champions Dinner.
The dinner was first suggested by Hogan — one of the Masters champions from Texas — in the early 1950s. He presided over the first four of them, before giving that distinction to Nelson, a fellow Texan who stayed in the role for about a half-century. From there, the presider’s role went to Crenshaw, another fellow Texan, who as part of his duties sits at the head of the table with the defending champion and introduces him.
Finish this one off, and Scheffler would secure the seat alongside Crenshaw next April.
“I’ve relied on those guys," Scheffler said. “I’ve taken plenty of advice from Ben and Jordan. Those guys have been great influences on my life, and I’m really grateful just to have their friendship. So I can’t really say enough about them and, you know, what they have done for the game of golf and for the state of Texas."
The par-3 6th hole has played over par on average at every Masters since 1975, but it was — by its standards — easy Saturday. The average score on the hole was 2.962, way better than the 3.311 in Round 1 and 3.112 in Round 2. ... Tiger Woods’ best round so far this week was a 71 on Thursday. The only times he played the Masters and didn’t have a 70 or better were 1995, 1996, 2007 and 2012. ... Adam Scott shot an 80 on Saturday, matching his worst score ever at the Masters. He also did it in the first round of the 2004 tournament.
More AP Masters coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/the-masters