Brooks Koepka leads the way heading into final round at the Masters

Brooks Koepka leads the way heading into final round at the Masters

Brooks Koepka remained the man to catch as the 87th Masters got back on schedule without the presence of Tiger Woods at Augusta National.

Koepka completed a third round of 73 to finish 11 under par, two shots clear of playing partner Jon Rahm, who also returned a 73 in testing conditions.

Norway’s Viktor Hovland was three shots off the lead following an eventful 70, with Patrick Cantlay another stroke back.

Woods had withdrawn before play resumed on Sunday morning, the 15-time major winner having slumped to the bottom of the leaderboard after making a record-equalling 23rd consecutive halfway cut.

The 47-year-old wrote on Twitter: “I am disappointed to have to WD this morning due to reaggravating my plantar fasciitis. Thank you to the fans and to @TheMasters who have shown me so much love and support. Good luck to the players today!”

When play got under way at 0830 local time (1330 BST), Rahm immediately halved his four-shot deficit, holing from nine feet for birdie on the seventh after Koepka had missed his longer par attempt.

Both players birdied the par-five eighth and both also missed the green on the par-three 12th as a swirling wind made club selection difficult.

Rahm enjoyed a fortunate bounce back towards the green and two-putted for par despite a sizeable amount of mud on his ball, but Koepka three-putted from long range to see his lead cut to a single shot.

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm reacts to his putt on the 15th hole during the third round of the Masters (David J. Phillip/AP)

However, it was Rahm’s turn to three putt on the very next hole, the world number three coming up well short with his approach and then charging his lengthy birdie putt six feet past the hole.

Koepka enjoyed a massive stroke of luck when his approach to the 15th looked set to spin back off the green and into the water, but the soft conditions meant his ball stopped on the bank.

Rahm had found the green in two on the par five, but three-putted from almost 100 feet and then bogeyed the 16th to fall three shots behind.

Trouble on the greens was seemingly catching though, Koepka needing three putts from just 24 feet on the 17th to see his lead cut to two shots ahead of the final round.

Hovland had looked completely out of the picture when he bogeyed the 10th to fall back to three under, but responded brilliantly with five straight birdies to move firmly into contention for a first major title.