BY PETE IACOBELLI
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Justin Rose sounded more like a golf fan planning out his Sunday TV schedule than a co-leader at the Masters prepping for the final round.
There’s Jordan Spieth, who “obviously has a special relationship the Masters,” Rose said.
And Rickie Fowler, who will “be all up for it tomorrow.”
And his Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia, who will “have a great opportunity.”
He summed up his rundown saying, “There’s wonderful storylines.”
One of the biggest might be Rose, who enters the fray at Augusta National with a championship pedigree and a closer’s ability to come through in the big moment. He did it to win the U.S. Open in 2013 and last summer when he captured an Olympic gold medal in Rio.
Rose reached the top with a run of five birdies over his last seven holes.
“I’m a major champion, but I’m looking for more,” Rose said. “I’m certainly looking for my first Masters and my first green jacket.”
Garcia and Fowler will also be seeking their first major wins. Garcia has played in 71 straight majors and hopes to shed the title of the best-ever without a major win. He’ll be paired with Rose, a friend, for the final 18 holes.
“Should be a great match-up in the last group,” Garcia said.
Fowler had a memorable 2014 major season, finishing in the top five of all four events — although he did not win. He’s worked to improve his fitness, health, golf game and mental approach the past six months and believes he’s arrived at the perfect nexus to take the next step to major champion.
“We’ve been having a blast this week,” Fowler said.
Other things to watch in Sunday’s final round at the Masters:
FADING PHIL: Phil Mickelson looked ready for a patented Masters charge Saturday when he opened with birdies on the first and second holes. Mickelson’s rise ended there. He had a double bogey on the par-4 third hole and could never recover. Mickelson went on to three more bogeys for a front side 39 and could not get much going the rest of the way to finish with a 2-over 74. It’s his second straight day over par as he attempted, at 46, to become the oldest winner at Augusta National. Mickelson, at 2 over, is eight shots behind the co-leaders.
SPIETH’S SURGE: Perhaps the best comeback of this tournament belongs to Jordan Spieth. The 2015 Masters champion was all but gone after a frustrating, quadruple bogey nine on the 15th hole in Thursday’s opening round. Spieth, though, started clawing back with a birdie on No. 16 to reframe his focus and, although he was 10 shots down, he had confidence he could contend. His rally took off on Saturday with five birdies on a 10-hole stretch for a 68 to leave him just two back heading into the final round. Watch out.
MAYBE HOFFMAN? Say what you want about Charley Hoffman’s inexplicable water ball on No. 16, the 40-year-old has hung tough after one of the loneliest situations in sport — gaining a big lead early. Hoffman opened with a 65 and had the biggest Masters lead after a first round in 62 years. Predictably, he came back to the pack Friday but remained in a four-way tie for the top after 36 holes. Hoffman appeared to have handled the chase well Saturday until the par-3 16th. Hoffman, though, rallied back after a mistake that might’ve unraveled many with two steady, closing pars to remain two off the lead.
PAST CHAMPS HOVERING: Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth aren’t the only past Masters winners hanging close to the top. Adam Scott, the 2013 champ, worked his way up to 3 under and three strokes back with his second straight 69 on Saturday. Charl Schwartzel, who won here in 2011 with birdies on the final four holes, shot a 68 in the third round to move to 2 under and four shots behind.
BIG CHARGES: The most capable making a huge run? It might be world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who is at even par and has yet to break 70 this week. But McIlroy, seeking the career grand slam, has a penchant for going low late at Augusta National, shooting in the 60s in three of his last four final rounds at the Masters.
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