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Masters 2021 Tee Times: Pairings and Predictions for Sunday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 11, 2021

Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, tees off on the 14th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament on Saturday, April 10, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The 2021 Masters is Hideki Matsuyama's tournament to lose.

Matsuyama used a back-nine surge Saturday to create a four-shot advantage between himself and a group tied for second place.

The 29-year-old has plenty of top-10 major finishes in his career, but he has never felt the pressure of being the leader heading into the last 18 holes.

Even though he has a comfortable lead, Matsuyama could be pressed by any of the golfers within five or six shots, especially if he drops a shot or two early on.

The top challenger is likely to come from the second-place group of Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose and Marc Leishman, but there is one player further back with a history of low rounds at Augusta National Golf Club who could make a winning push.

       

Masters Sunday Tee Times

1 p.m. ET: Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas

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1:20 p.m. ET: Viktor Hovland, Ryan Palmer

1:30 p.m. ET: Henrik Stenson, Stewart Cink

1:40 p.m. ET: Patrick Reed, Kevin Na

1:50 p.m. ET: Si Woo Kim, Bernd Wiesberger

2 p.m. ET: Tony Finau, Robert MacIntyre

2:10 p.m. ET: Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman

2:20 p.m. ET: Will Zalatoris, Corey Conners

2:30 p.m. ET: Marc Leishman, Justin Rose

2:40 p.m. ET: Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele

Full list of tee times can be found on Masters.com.

       

Predictions

Matsuyama Keeps Steady Hand, Makes It Tough for Challengers to Tie Him

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Matsuyama carded the only bogey-free round of the tournament Saturday.

During a seven-hole stretch from No. 11-No. 17, Matsuyama holed four birdies and an eagle. He had four pars on the other back nine holes.

The low run through the final nine holes is a good sign for the Japanese player as he enters a pressure-packed Sunday.

If he banks on the confidence gained off those results, Matsuyama could put away the tournament before the final few holes.

Matsuyama's prior major experience should also help calm his nerves a bit. He has seven top-10 major finishes and landed inside the top seven at Augusta in 2015 and 2016.

Since 2017, Matsuyama produced four straight final rounds of 72 or better at Augusta. If he produces an even-par round of 72 on Sunday, he will force any contenders to shoot five under or better to win without forcing a playoff.

The final-round consistency extends outside of Augusta and to other majors. Matsuyama has seven rounds of 72 or better on the final day of majors dating back to the 2018 Masters.

All of that experience, plus the four-shot gap, should help Matsuyama deal with the unique pressure of leading a major on Sunday.

     

Jordan Spieth Makes Surge Up Leaderboard

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Spieth needs one of the best rounds of his life to win in back-to-back weeks.

The Texas Open winner sits six shots behind Matsuyama, and while it seems like a big gap, he has shown the capabilities of going low on Sunday at Augusta.

In 2018, Spieth used a Sunday 64 to finish third behind Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler. He cut a nine-shot deficit to Reed down by seven shots.

Beating an in-form Matsuyama will still be a hard task, but Spieth could play loose and make a run at the lead if he plays well on the front nine.

The second hole could be vital to Spieth's success, as he birdied the par-five in each of his three rounds. He had two other birdies on the front nine.

If he narrows the gap on the front nine, Spieth could make a further charge on the back nine, where he has had more success this week.

Spieth has seven birdies and an eagle on holes No. 10-18. He had a single back-nine bogey on Friday and Saturday.

As long as he avoids any hiccups, Spieth could surge ahead of the other contenders with a few birdies and potentially challenge Matsuyama. If he does not win, Spieth could still lock up a top-three finish that would be massive for his confidence going into the season's other three majors.

         

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from PGATour.com.