USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson.
- You could make a case that everyone near the top of the Masters leaderboard could win it all on Sunday.
- Jason Sobel details what they each need to do in order to put on the green jacket.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Since 1990, no Masters champion has been outside of the top-five entering the final round.
You’re likely to hear about this trend plenty of times between the time you’re reading this and Sunday’s back-nine, which will take place considerably earlier than usual because of impending thunderstorms in the afternoon.
If that statistic holds true, either Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson or Ian Poulter (the last two are tied for fifth) will be your 2019 Masters champion.
What’s the key for each of them? And what do they need to avoid?
Glad you asked. Let’s take a look at all the contenders going into the final round.
Francesco Molinari (13-under)
What he needs to do: Everything he’s been doing so far. Players like his final-round playing partners Woods and Finau might be more intimidating with their booming drives and chiseled physiques, but there’s nothing more frustrating for a player than chasing a guy who continually peppers the fairways and greens. Sticking to that gameplan could mean a green jacket by Sunday afternoon.
What he needs to avoid: Becoming complacent. Yes, Frankie owns the lead and the other guys have to chase him. But blindly posting 18 pars on a course that yielded three 64s in the third round won’t be enough to get it done. He’ll need a strategic combination of stepping on the gas pedal and tapping the brakes.
Tiger Woods (11-under)
What he needs to do: Activate those glutes. I kid, I kid — sort of. Following his third round, Woods revealed that he’d wake up “around 3:45 or 4” for his 9:20 tee time. He’s previously mentioned needing that much time to get ready to play a competitive round. For a guy known to start slow at times, he might not be able to afford dropping a few strokes in the early going.
What he needs to avoid: Pars on the par-5s. The biggest difference between Tiger and everyone else when he was playing his best golf is that he’d annihilate the par-5 holes, essentially turning the golf course into a par-68. That might be the case for everyone these days, so he needs eagles and birdies just to keep pace.
In the first two rounds, he played the eight total par-5s in just 2-under; on Saturday, he played those four holes in 3-under. He’ll need more of the latter on these scoring holes.