The Masters: 'Big Four' focus


Three of the top four players in the world rankings remain in contention at Augusta, although Rory McIlroy's hopes of securing a first Masters title - and a career Grand Slam - faded significantly on Saturday.

We take a look at how long-time leader Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, McIlroy and Bubba Watson fared in the third round. The latter will certainly not be adding to his two previous triumphs at Augusta.



Third-round score: 73 (out in 35, back in 38)

Tournament score: -3

Position: 1st

A record seventh Masters round in succession ended with Spieth at the top of the pile, but things could have been so much better for the defending champion.

Typically brilliant around the greens as he battled through the front nine, Spieth looked to have put a sloppy six at the 11th behind him when he birdied three of the next four holes to open up a four-stroke lead - the same advantage he held heading into last year's final round.

However, Spieth admitted he "just got really wayward with the ball" over the closing holes and a bogey, double-bogey finish opened the door for the chasing pack, including a certain Mr Day.



Third-round score: 71 (out in 35, back in 36)

Tournament score: Even

Position: T5

Day's round of 71 appeared all the more valuable by the time Spieth had made a mess of 17 and 18.

The world number one showed his mettle early on, holing lengthy par putts on the third, sixth and seventh.

Presentable birdie chances followed at the next three holes, but only one was taken and Day's hopes were fading fast when he bogeyed the short 12th.

However, back-to-back gains at 13 and 14 - the latter courtesy of a mammoth putt - got the Australian back on track and, although he three-putted from just off the green at 16, he will begin Sunday's final round only three off the pace.



Third-round score: 77 (out in 38, back in 39)

Tournament score: +2

Position: T11

McIlroy had made at least one birdie in his last 80 major rounds, but that streak came to an end on Saturday in a hugely underwhelming 77.

Not for the first time, the Northern Irishman struggled badly at the start of Augusta's back nine, following a bogey at 10 with a needless six at the next - where he attempted to draw his second shot onto the green from a tricky position but succeeded only in finding water.

McIlroy parred in thereafter, but his miserable day was summed up when he failed to convert a wonderful approach to the 18th.



Third-round score: 76 (out in 39, back in 37)

Tournament score: +10

Position: T48

Playing with a marker as the last of 57 players to make the cut, Watson followed up two 75s with a 76 on Saturday. As the world's top three players challenged for the green jacket, Watson had long finished his penultimate round, although he at least moved up the leaderboard.