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With all eyes on Tiger Woods, Scottie Scheffler quietly takes control of the Masters

Scotty Scheffler watches his pole position in fourth place during the third round of the Masters Tournament. He had a 71 under par and a three stroke lead at nine under heading into Sunday. (Robert F. Bucati/The Associated Press)

Scotty Scheffler left Augusta National Saturday night with a simple plan, a night of watching The Office party for the umpteenth time.

“I think we’re like two episodes in season four,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to sitting down and laughing a bit and eating some good food.”

A night out full of comedy after a day of drama for the world’s #1 golfer, the only Masters competitor with three consecutive sub-par rounds.

Scheffler, 25, who hadn’t won six weeks ago on the PGA Tour, now has three wins to his name and a three-shot lead heading into the final round of a major championship.

In the afternoon, he shot 71 below par to start Sunday’s showdown with Australian Cameron Smith, whose third-round 68th round was the low score for the day. Scheffler, who leads with three strokes, and Smith takes off at 11:40 a.m. PDT.

“It should be a good fight,” Scheffler said. “Kam is obviously a great player, he has a great short game. . . . we are both in great shape, so I am definitely looking forward to the challenge.”

In addition to playing, Schaeffler and Smith – and most of the other people on the field – were a sideshow. Tiger Woods has been more in the spotlight than usual, having returned from a rollover car accident 14 months ago that nearly cost him his right leg.

Woods had an awful day on the Greens, making a four-shot and his first four-pointer at the Masters, shooting a 78 that included his first two doubles of the week. Woods will play Jon Ram at 7:50 a.m. PDT.

“I couldn’t get comfortable with the ball,” he said. “Situation, I feel, my right hand, my release, I couldn’t find it. Trying different things, trying to find it, trying to get something, taking strokes and trying to feel the swing and head of the racket, trying to get nothing, and it seemed like nothing Works “.

Tiger Woods hits from a bunker on the second hole during the third round of the Masters Tournament.

Tiger Woods hits from a bunker on the second hole during the third round. He shot six over 78 at seven for the championship. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)

The temperature was hovering around 50 degrees, and Woods, who walked much more cautiously than during the first two rounds, admitted that made him a little tougher on his back.

“It’s not as graceful and loose as it usually is, that’s for sure,” he said.

He tied for 41st at 7pm, which means he’ll need only 65 incendiary shots to finish on par.

As for Scheffler, he had a round up and down with six birds and five ghosts.

“I was playing some golf really well, and out of a few holes in the back nine, I could have had a really great round,” he said. “But I still have a really good run today. Anything with the red numbers today is going to be consistent.”

One of the most impressive holes was an eighteen, after he crashed his car to the left, cut a branch and ended his ball in a bush. As he walked up the hill in that direction, he was worried he might miss the ball.

“We saw the guy with the flag and the balls always kind of panicked,” he said. “I was like, Oh, crap, I wonder what’s going on here.”

When his ball was located, he was relieved, though that meant taking a drop in the pine straw for a lie he couldn’t play. Then came the champ shot, a great three iron sailing 255 yards up the hill, clearing the green dugout on the left, bouncing away from the hole and rolling off the trailing edge, setting up a slide and hitting.

It was important that he keep his cool, something that probably didn’t happen in his younger years.

“It’s definitely something that has been acquired over the course of my life,” he said of his calm demeanor. “I was a bit reckless in high school and college, so to be able to be patient and realize mistakes are going to happen, winning golf tournaments here is not easy. It is very difficult.”

So far, he’s coping with it just fine.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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