TEXAN Jordan Spieth, bidding to become the youngest-ever winner and first rookie to claim the Green Jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, shares the lead with Bubba Watson heading into the final round of the 78th Masters.
At the end of an enthralling day - a hot one, too - the pair were locked together on five-under-par after Spieth signed for a 70 and Watson, the 2012 winner, a 74.
Another American, Matt Kuchar, who hasn’t finished outside the top 20 in the last four years in this event, is in the hunt again after a 68 moved him to four-under alongside Swede Jonas Blixt (71).
Blixt is bidding to become the first European winner since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez also has his sights set on ending that drought.
The 50-year-old stormed into contention with a six-under 66 - the best of the week - and is tied for fifth on three-under with American Rickie Fowler (67).
England’s Lee Westwood (70) and Dane Thomas Bjorn (73) are alongside American Jim Furyk (72) on two-under, with a group on one-under including US Open champion Justin Rose (69) and former winner Fred Couples (73).
Adam Scott’s hopes of becoming just the fourth player in the event’s history to record back-to-back wins now appear slim.
Australia’s first winner 12 months ago and one off the lead after Thursday’s first round, he slipped to a 76 and is tied for 16th on one-over.
No-one outside the top 10 heading into the final round has emerged as the winner since Art Wall in 1959 so Scott has history against him and Rory McIlroy, too.
Out with a marker after being the last man to scrape into the final two rounds, he shot a one-under 71 but trails the two leaders by eight shots with a round to go.
Spieth, last year’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, is looking forward to his next date with destiny in the company of Watson. Tiger Woods was 21 years, three months and 15 days when he won The Masters by 12 shots in 1997. Spieth will be 20 years, eight months and 17 days old today.
“I’m very excited about it,” he admitted. “To play in the final round here is a dream come true. I don’t think I’ve ever had a round where I’ve been nervous on every single swing, shot, and putt.
“I’m sure that will happen tomorrow, but hopefully I can channel it positively and stay grounded, stay cool, and see what happens.”
Watson, who started the day with a three-shot cushion, briefly saw that lead increase to five after he eagled the third but the left-hander was wayward thereafter.
He was pleased, though, to hole crucial par putts at both the 17th and 18th to secure his place in that final group.
“Jordan and I are good friends and our caddies are, too,” he revealed. “It’s going to be interesting but fun. Hopefully one of us wins.”