By Andrew Both
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and South Korea’s Im Sung-jae can make history for their respective countries at the Masters on Sunday, while Australia’s Cameron Smith could pen another memorable chapter for a proud golfing nation.
Tied for second, the trio who were team mates on the 2019 International Presidents Cup team will start the final round on Sunday four strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson at Augusta National.
It is a significant deficit to be sure but chances are at least one will play well enough to apply at least a little heat on the American.
Ancer and Im would be the first from their nations to slip into the famous Green Jacket, while Smith would be the second Australian after Adam Scott (2013).
Ancer is not the longest hitter around, but has been so impressive in his first Masters.
Not that he sounded particularly confident of reeling in Johnson.
“We know that we have to go low, and that’s it,” he said after a three-under-par 69, speaking for himself and the other challengers.
“It’s very simple. We have to just make a lot of birdies. I mean, if D.J. goes out there and plays really solid like today, it’s going to be pretty much impossible to catch him.
“It’s not going to be easy, but you know whatever has to be done out there has to be pretty special.”
Fellow Masters debutant Im shot 68 and said he felt like he knew the course well despite never having played here until now.
“I watched the Masters growing up so many times that I feel like I’m used to playing this course, even though this is my first time,” said Im, whose backswing is so deliberate it could be issued a slow play warning.
“I want to just stay composed, stick to my game plan, try to minimise as many mistakes as possible, and hopefully have a good finish.”
Smith, who also shot 69, is an Augusta veteran compared with Ancer and Im as this is his fourth Masters.
Excitement barely begins to describe his feelings.
“I mean, it’s what we dream about,” he said. “That’s why we want to play. I really just can’t wait for tomorrow.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris)