Masters: Course kicks Lawrie where it hurts most

IT’S a feeling he should be getting used to but isn’t. Hence the reason Paul Lawrie, with typical honesty, likened his third-round journey here to being “kicked in the bollocks”.

The Aberdonian played “lovely” for 13 holes and reckoned he should have been considerably better than two-under for that stretch. “It could have been five or six-under,” he reported.

What happened after a “poor shot” led to a bogey at the 14th and left Lawrie feeling totally frustrated by the finish. He also dropped shots at the 16th and 17th then ran up a double-bogey 6 at the last, which included him chipping into a bunker.

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“I played lovely out there but, it’s jst the usual,” groaned the 44-year-old, pictured below. “Play good and get kicked in the bollocks. It’s been happening for months. I should be used to it by now, but I’m not.”

It added up to a 75 and a 54-hole total 221 – eight shots more than at the same stage a year ago, when he was in the top ten heading into the final round before finishing tied for 24th.

One ahead of Lawrie at the start of the day, Sandy Lyle slipped five shots behind his compatriot after an 81. His finish was tired-looking, too, with five shots being spilled over the final five holes.

“It wasn’t my day,” confessed Lyle, who had enjoyed surviving the cut on the 25th anniversary of him becoming the first British player to earn a green jacket.

Holing putts proved more difficult for him than earlier in the week. On Friday, in particular, his ‘Black Swan’ putter with its gigantic head had worked a treat.

“The greens are getting ridiculously fast right now,” said Lyle. “It’s almost going to become a little bit of a Disney World if we’re not careful. It’s drying out and there’s some really fast putts.”

The 55-year-old could have Tianlang Guan for company in today’s final round after the 14-year-old carded a 77 to sit just ahead of the Scot on 225.

The Chinese player, handed a slow-play penalty in his second round, failed to register a birdie for the second day running but holed a monster putt for a par at the last.

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He’s already earned a place in the record books as the youngest player to make the cut in a major. As an added bonus, Guan is already guaranteed to finish as the leading amateur as the others fell to the halfway axe.

The lead in the clubhouse was held by American Matt Kuchar after he crafted a fine 69 to move to four-under, one ahead of Tim Clark after the South African shot a 67 to catapult himself up the leaderboard.

Interestingly, both Kuchar and Clark are members of the belly putter brigade. Kuchar, winner of the WGC Match Play Championship earlier in the year, bagged five birdies in making an ominous thrust.

Clark, who has been vociferous in opposing the proposed anchoring ban by the R&A and USGA, reeled off five birdies in the first seven holes. He insisted, however, that this isn’t a “putting contest”. “For me it’s really been about ball-striking this week,” said Clark.

At the turn, Australian duo Jason Day and Marc Leishman were sharing the lead with Argentine Angel Cabrera, who won at Augusta in 2009.