AUGUSTA, Ga. — Collin Morikawa appears to have figured out the greens in his fifth visit to Augusta National Golf Club. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t fear them. Probably a smart idea.

In pursuit of his first Masters title and the third leg of the career Grand Slam, Morikawa has improved incrementally each day and is the only player in the field of the 88th Masters to post three straight rounds under par. That includes a third-round 69 Saturday at baked out, crispy, crunchy, crusty Augusta National.

Morikawa’s three-under 69 effort was one off the low round of the day by Chris Kirk and one of just 12 rounds below par. Winner of the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 Open Championship, Morikawa climbed into second place at six-under 210, a stroke behind 2022 Masters winner Scottie Scheffler.

A big key for the 27-year-old Los Angeles native has been a renewed bout of confidence on the greens after making a putter switch following an opening 71. But past results aren’t indicative of future performance, as your broker might say, and on Saturday evening Morikawa sounded like a man who was girding for a test the field has yet to see this week.

Masters 2024

Collin Morikawa watches his shot in the third round of the Masters.

J.D. Cuban

“Look, tomorrow, anything could happen. There’s still a lot of guys right beneath us,” Morikawa cautioned. “We don’t know what conditions are going to be like. The greens are getting firmer than I’ve ever seen out here. So it’s going to play a lot different from kind of what we’ve seen the first two rounds.

“I mean, today, as the round was going through, you could just tell the greens were just completely changing,” he continued. “Tomorrow it’s going to be even that much more bouncy, fast. Like I said, I’ve never seen the course like this. It was kind of leading up to that as the week started. We got some rain Thursday, but right now is probably exactly where Augusta wants it. And I think some holes, some approach shots might have to be tweaked based on where I am and what clubs I’m hitting versus previous years for me.”

That sounds kind of ominous. And difficult.

To prepare, Morikawa figured he might watch a bit of the early-round play on Sunday before his 2:35 p.m. tee time in the last pairing with Scheffler. He might learn something about how tough the course has been set up. An opportunity to do something special awaits.

“If you asked me at the beginning of the week I’d be one back heading into Sunday, I would have taken that any time,” he said. “You give yourself a chance with 18 holes left, that’s all you can really do and everything that you practice for. It all comes together tomorrow hopefully. But it’s going to be a grind, and I’m looking forward to that.”


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