By Frank Pingue
AUGUSTA Ga. (Reuters) – Brooks Koepka relinquished his share of the Masters lead on Saturday but the American is not about to panic given the increased self-belief that helped him bag two of the last three majors.
On a day when Augusta National, which had been softened by rain earlier in the week, was yielding low scores Koepka could only muster a three-under-par 69 that left him alone in fourth place and three shots back of leader Francesco Molinari.
“I’m pretty comfortable being in, being up there on the leaderboard in a major come Sunday,” said Koepka, whose roller-coaster round included an eagle, five birdies and four bogeys. “So I enjoy it, it’s fun, getting definitely more comfortable with it as every major goes by.
“I feel good and I like my chances tomorrow.”
Koepka, who does not have a top-10 finish in three previous starts at the Masters and missed the event in 2018 due to a wrist injury, was chugging along at one-under on the day when he stepped up to the par-five 15th and gave his Green Jacket hopes a boost.
The three-times major champion launched his drive 332 yards up the fairway and then made an eagle after his approach shot settled 10 feet from the cup.
That hole not only salvaged his round but could go a long way to determining if he is to slip into a Green Jacket after Sunday’s final round, which is starting a 7:30 a.m. ET (1130 GMT).
Due to an ominous weather forecast, golfers will go off from the first and 10th tees in threesomes and Koepka will be followed around the course by the final grouping of Molinari, Tiger Woods and Tony Finau.
Koepka has said all week he was focused on his own game and not worrying about what anyone else is doing, but that could prove tough come Sunday with the leaders playing right behind him.
“I can’t control anything that they’re doing with ‑‑ whatever they’re going to do, they’re going to do,” said Koepka. “So just need to go out there and hopefully they can see something on the board where it’ll make them a little nervous.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)