Golf

Rory McIlroy is one off the pace in Augusta.

Windy conditions set the tone for difficult day three at the Masters

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Former champion Larry Mize showed what was possible, both good and bad, on a windswept third day of the Masters at Augusta National.

Mize, who memorably won the green jacket in 1987 by chipping in for birdie on the second play-off hole against Greg Norman, initially defied the conditions to open his third round with three consecutive birdies.

However, with gusting winds making scoring difficult for the second day running, the 57-year-old then bogeyed the next four holes and dropped another shot on the ninth to reach the turn in 38.

After three hours of play, only two players were under par for the day, with Ryder Cup team-mates and playing partners Justin Rose and Jamie Donaldson both one under after three holes.

Donaldson had recovered from a bogey on the first by holing from 65 feet for an eagle on the second, while Rose, who was joint second last year, had birdied the short par-four third.

Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello had made a move with birdies on the first two holes only to four-putt the fifth, just as defending champion Jordan Spieth did on Friday.

Despite a rollercoaster round of 74, Spieth ended the day as the only player in tournament history to hold the outright lead for six consecutive rounds, but Rory McIlroy was just a shot adrift in pursuit of a win he needs to complete the career grand slam.

McIlroy has a weekend scoring average at Augusta of 68.5 in the last two years, but former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie believes Spieth's ability to grind out pars gives him the slight edge.

"I think that's why you have to favor Jordan here," Montgomerie said on the Golf Channel. "I was so impressed with what Jordan did at the Open Championship last year in very, very difficult circumstances, having to play par golf around St Andrews, and how he managed that.

"This is all about patience today. It's about who can handle the mistakes the best. They're going to make mistakes all over the place. Good shots are going to be bogeys. Bad shots could very well be doubles. It's going to be about who can handle that, and walk on to that next tee, and think about the next shot. The only shot important in golf is the next one."

Two-time champion Bubba Watson had been the first man out and, with 57 players making the cut, was required to play with Augusta National member Jeff Knox as his marker for the second time in four years.

Watson was five over par for his first 12 holes before picking up shots on the 13th and 15th, but another bogey on the last meant he had to settle for a 76, which he declined to discuss with waiting reporters.

The par fives again looked to be crucial scoring opportunities in the conditions and Brooks Koepka, JB Holmes and Bernd Wiesberger all birdied the second to improve to level par, four shots behind Spieth.

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