AUGUSTA -- It was just about 5 o’clock when the Masters began to lose its mind Saturday.

What had been for a couple days a nice little bro-to-bro match between Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa and Bryson DeChambeau was transformed into an international chariot race all over the back nine with six players taking and/or losing shares of the lead, while America Googled to ask what exactly is a Nicolai Hojgaard.

Once they cooled down the computer at scoring central, it was determined that Scheffler, who carded four bogeys and a double-bogey, somehow clawed his way back to one-under 71 for a one-shot lead at 7-under par entering Sunday’s final round. He will vie with Collin Morikawa, who closed out the tumultuous third day with 11 straight pars, to shoot 69 and hold down second.

Homa could not muster a single birdie all day but held on with a 73 at two shots back, one swing ahead of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, a Masters rookie playing in a championship with little familiarity with Scandinavia. And if that was not enough on a did-you-just-see-that? sort of day at Augusta National, consider DeChambeau, who was playing himself out of a contention before canning a 77-yard birdie from No. 18 fairway to stake down fifth place with a 75.

“It was very challenging out there,” Scheffler said. “But it’s a major championship. I don’t think Augusta wants their golf course to be very easy.”

Scheffler is seeking his second Masters title in three years but Saturday was unlike his dominant performance in 2022. This leaderboard includes four contenders from the World Golf Rankings top 20: Morikawa (No. 20), Homa (No. 11), Aberg (No. 9) and Xander Schauffele (No. 5 at five shots back). Fortune favors the bold.

“Look, Scottie is the No. 1 player in the world for a reason and what he’s done over the past few years is incredible,” Morikawa said. “But at the end of the day, it doesn’t scare me.”

If the field was waiting for an opening Saturday, Scheffler provided it after the turn. Protecting a one-shot lead, he double-bogeyed No. 10 after flying his approach into shrubbery behind the green and then watching his bogey try from three feet do a 180 around the cup. No. 11 was little improvement. He missed par from five feet.

At that point, the body English did not appear invincible, his head down, seeming to inspect his shoes.

“Maybe my Nikes just looked really white or something,” he said. “No, I do my best to try and stay in my little world out there. And sometimes when you get little surprises, like I did there on 10 and 11, yeah, just trying to do my best to stay in the moment.”

Which he was able to do. His round pivoted on No. 13, where he sank a 31-footer for eagle, bumping him up from third place to a share of the lead, which he then took over alone with a 11-foot birdie on No. 15. Then when he slipped with his fourth bogey of the day on No. 17, he closed the round with an eight-foot birdie on No. 18.

In contrast, Morikawa could not have been more consistent, opening with three straight birdies to close the gap with Scheffler to one shot. Though he briefly shared the lead when Scheffler slipped, his long string of pars could not elevate him further. He remained the only player with three straight sub-par rounds (71-70-69).

“Look, tomorrow, anything could happen,” said Morikawa, who is seeking his third major but his first Masters. “There’s still a lot of guys right beneath us. 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.”

Homa had failed to match par in any of his first four Masters -- best finish: T-43 last year -- so it was with some relief that he carded 17 pars with one bogey and still remained 6-under (67-71-73) entering the last round.

“If I catch myself thinking about what could go wrong, I let myself dream about what could go right,” Homa said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I didn’t know what was going to happen today.

“If you told me I made no birdies today, I would have thought I imploded.”

Which is what DeChambeau was doing. Tied with Homa and Scheffler entering the day, he remained a shot back late in the day when his round fell apart on the par-15, where he chipped into the pond from behind a tree after clearing the same pond with his second. He two-putted for a double-bogey 7.

Things did not improve on No. 16, where he three-putt from 45 feet, completing a 5-shot tumble down the leaderboard. But the improbable closing birdie, where he drove into deep woods on the right, chipped out and then sunk his approach, left him four shots back.

“I just figured it was easier than putting. Joking obviously,” he said.

Heretofore, only once in Masters history has a Scandinavian player led here -- Peter Hanson in 2012 -- and for a while in the third round, it happened twice. Aberg (the Swede, by way of Texas Tech) and Denmark’s Hojgaard (a three-time European Tour champion) claimed brief leads before a bogey parade -- Aberg going back-to-back, Hojgaard with four straight (40 on the back nine) -- knocked them off pace.

“We try to stop the bleeding a little bit,” Hojgaard said. “If I knew how to do it, I probably would have done it. But yeah, there was a lot of good stuff anyway.”