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Utah’s Tony Finau stays in the top 10 in the Masters, despite an over-par round

He fades from contention after failing to take advantage of Augusta’s par-5s, and watches Japan’s Hikeki Matsuyama run away from the pack

(David J. Phillip | AP) Tony Finau reacts after missing an eagle putt on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga.

Hideki Matsuyama’s interpreter and manager is the only Utahn with any hope of visiting Butler Cabin for Sunday’s presentation of the green jacket to the Masters winner.

That’s because Tony Finau failed to take full advantage of Augusta National Golf Club’s par-5s in Saturday’s third round, while Matsuyama was surging into a big lead.

Finau dropped slightly to ninth place with a 73, making three bogeys and two birdies and falling eight strokes behind the leader at 3 under par for the tournament. At stake Sunday for the West High School graduate, though, is a third top-10 finish in his four Masters appearances and an eighth top-10 placement in the last 12 major tournaments.

BYU alumnus Bob Turner may join in Matsuyama’s historic breakthrough for a Japanese male golfer in major, after having worked with him since his arrival in the United States in 2013. Turner, who participated in a CBS interview during Saturday’s telecast, has made a career of helping Japanese pro athletes adjust to life in America.

The group of four players tied for second place, four strokes behind Matsuyama, includes Will Zalatoris. Last summer, Zalatoris placed fourth in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington, lipping out a birdie attempt on No. 18 and finishing one stroke out of the playoff with a 19-under-par total.

Finau’s ambitions of staying in contention for a green jacket were spoiled mostly by poor drives or second shots on the par-5s, making him settle for pars Saturday. He had played those four holes in 4 under par with an eagle and two birdies Friday, on the way to a 66.

Finau did birdie No. 15, starting with a 336-yard drive down the middle. His second shot went just over the green and he ended up making a 7-foot putt. His only other birdie came on the par-4 No. 3, where he made a putt from similar length after nearly driving the green.

He three-putted for a bogey on No. 1 and also bogeyed No. 5 after hitting his approach shot to the right of the green. After his birdie on No. 15 finally got him back to even par for the day, Finau bogeyed No. 17. An errant drive into the pine trees on the right side forced him to punch his ball back into the fairway, taking away reasonable hope of a par. Finau then played two excellent shots on No. 18, only to miss a 12-foot birdie attempt.

Having played the first three rounds with Justin Thomas, who faded with a 75, Finau will be paired with Robert MacIntyre of Scotland in the final round. They will tee off at noon MDT.

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