Defending champion Jon Rahm frustrated on day three of The Masters

The Spaniard added a third round of 72 on Saturday to remain five over par.

Phil Casey
Saturday 13 April 2024 21:17 BST
Jon Rahm will not be defending his Masters crown
Jon Rahm will not be defending his Masters crown (PA)

Defending champion Jon Rahm admitted he had a “sour feeling” at remaining a frustrated also-ran on day three of The Masters at Augusta National.

Rahm had insisted his competitive edge had not been dulled by his move to LIV Golf ahead of his attempt to become just the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters titles.

The Spaniard’s shock move to the Saudi-backed breakaway came after he had previously pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour and criticised LIV’s 54-hole format, with no cut and a shotgun start as “not a golf tournament”.

The two-time major winner has failed to win any of the five LIV events he has played to date, but travelled to Augusta on the back of finishing fourth in Miami on Sunday and winning the team event at Doral.

However, the Ryder Cup star was never a factor in the year’s first major and added a third round of 72 on Saturday to remain five over par after previous scores of 73 and 76.

“Yesterday was terrible,” Rahm conceded. “Today I kept in in play off the tee, which is going to do a lot. Didn’t really make any putts, did I? Gave myself plenty of chances, just didn’t make them.

Jon Rahm failed to mount a challenge
Jon Rahm failed to mount a challenge (Getty Images)

“Luckily made the one on 17 to have the only birdie of the day - I had a few really good chances on three, four, five and eight, just none of them wanted to go in.

“Those first two days it’s just too hard of conditions to not have your swing. Being a little lost and not being under control of what was going on makes it so much harder.

“Had to play very defensively and try to pick my spots and just couldn’t put myself in a good position coming into today. I think if you came out today and somehow shot 67 or lower, maybe you could give yourself a little bit of hope.

“But it’s a hard golf course out there. Anything under par is a good round. Anything in the 60s is a fantastic round today.”

As defending champion Rahm will be required to hand over a green jacket to the winner on Sunday and added: “Yeah, I mean, worst case I’ll be a part of the ceremony. I’ll be there.

“I’m guessing it will be a little different (to last year). Bit of a sour feeling knowing you’re not in contention.”

Rahm’s successor as Masters champion will earn $3.6m (£2.89m) on Sunday, up by $360,000 (£289,000) from last year, after tournament officials announced the overall prize fund had been increased from $18m (£14.4m) to $20m (£16m).

Rory McIlroy will not be presented with a green jacket by his Ryder Cup team-mate after failing to play his way back into contention on Saturday, the world number two quickly giving himself more work to do with a bogey on the first.

A birdie on the par-five second repaired the damage before McIlroy three-putted the sixth and missed from five feet for birdie on the next, although he did convert from the same distance on the par-five eighth.

Tiger Woods had also refused to give up hope of an unlikely sixth Masters title after making a record 24th consecutive halfway cut to lie seven shots off the lead.

However, after a superb birdie on the difficult fifth, Woods three-putted the next and ran up a double bogey on the seventh to slide further down the leaderboard.

PA

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