Masters notes: Cantlay serves notice of scoring conditions

Patrick Cantlay lines up his putt on 16 during the third round of the Masters Tournament Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta. Jason Getz / Special to the AJC
Patrick Cantlay lines up his putt on 16 during the third round of the Masters Tournament Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta. Jason Getz / Special to the AJC

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Before the leaders ever got off the practice range, Patrick Cantlay left them a post-it note on the scoreboard: Augusta National could be had Saturday.

Cantlay, a sixth-year PGA Tour veteran via UCLA, came within a shot of the course record with a third-round 64 at the Masters, illustrating for the field that the soft greens and calm conditions were going to be conducive to scoring.

He carded twin 32s and came by his number the hard way, birdieing just one of the four par-5s. He birdied the par-3 4th and par-4 11th, which have been among the five toughest holes to score this week.

Playing in his third Masters, he tied for 47th as an amateur in 2012 and missed the cut last year. He previous lowest score here was 71, shot in his first round in 2012, when he finished as low amateur.

“I mean, out of all the rounds I played here, this was the easiest scoring condition-wise,” he said. “I got out early and the ball was going the right distance, the wind wasn't blowing too much, greens were soft and the hole locations were much easier than the last few days. I thought the last few days, the hole locations were really tough and I saw a few that I actually had never seen before. So it was kind of the perfect storm for a good round.”

Final round moved up

With the pending severe weather conditions, the tee times for the final round Sunday have been moved up.

Players will be grouped in threesomes with tee times scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. The leaders will tee off at 9:20 a.m.

Gates are scheduled to open at 7:15 a.m.

CBS will broadcast the final round live, beginning at 9 a.m.

“The safety of everyone on our grounds is paramount,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters tournament, said in a statement. “We also believe the earlier start will give us the best opportunity to complete the Masters on Sunday. This decision should benefit everyone – the players, our patrons and our fans watching around the world. Given the competitiveness and drama of this year’s tournament, we look forward to an exciting conclusion tomorrow.”

Mickelson delivers barb aimed at Kuchar

Phil Mickelson didn’t miss a chance to deliver a good-natured shot at his friend Matt Kuchar – even while driving up Magnolia Lane.

Mickelson posted a video on his Twitter account as he drove into Augusta National before the third round of the Masters Saturday. Mickelson and Kuchar were paired together for a 1:45 p.m. tee time as they both stood at 4-under par, three strokes off the lead.

Mickelson offered this comment about the pairing – an obvious barb at the well-documented flap involving Kuchar and the payment, or lack there off, to a caddie last year.

“I’ve got a great pairing today with Matt Kuchar,” Mickelson said. “Obviously, we are not going to have any side action today because I’d probably see like 0.6 percent if I did win.”

Kuchar was criticized for paying a local caddie just $5,000 after a victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico in November. Kuchar won $1.296 million for the victory. Caddies usually receive about 10 percent of a golfer’s winnings. Kuchar later offered the caddie $50,000.

The 48-year-old Mickelson spent most of the video promoting his strategy to hit “bombs” off the tee and being aggressive going for greens as a strategy for winning a fourth Masters. Should he accomplish the feat, he would be the oldest player ever to win a major.

No ordinary marker

It didn’t rank as a Tiger Roar, but Augusta native Jeff Knox got a huge ovation when he drained a 30-footer for birdie on the 18th hole. You won’t see any evidence of the putt on the scorecard, since Knox was the non-competing marker who joined England’s Eddie Pepperell in the first group off the tee on Saturday.

Knox is an accomplished player. He has won the club championship at Augusta National on numerous occasions, is a two-time Georgia Mid-Amateur champion and a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. He has served as the club’s non-competing marker for years, although there were rumors that Knox may be ready to step aside for younger member.

“I wasn’t sure I was playing with him until I saw him on the range hitting balls,” Pepperell said. “And then I saw him swinging it and I thought I’m in trouble. The course is probably a little too long for him at this point, but man, he’s a good player and his short game was brilliant.”

Pepperell shot a 72, his best round of the week, and Knox shot a 74.

“I did beat him, so you can actually report that,” Pepperell. “Which makes me better than Rory McIlroy, apparently.” Knox famously beat McIlroy as a marker and has played with the likes of Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Jason Day and Ernie Els.

-Stan Awtrey, Thomas Stinson and Chris Vivlamore contributed to this report.