Masters 2023: Updated Predictions for Top Prize Money for Day 3

Masters 2023: Updated Predictions for Top Prize Money for Day 3

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Brooks Koepka of the United States reacts to his birdie on the 13th green during the second round of the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 07, 2023 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2023 Masters tournament could look completely different on Saturday than it did on Thursday and Friday.

The sunny and favorable conditions are gone, and they have been replaced by cold, wind and rain.

Brooks Koepka enters Saturday with a three-stroke lead over Jon Rahm, which could be a higher total by the time Rahm completes his second round on Saturday morning.

Koepka is the only golfer in the field to reach the 10-under mark at Augusta National Golf Club, but he may not win with that low of a score because of the flip to the unsavory conditions.

The tournament is far from over, even if Koepka begins the third round with a four-shot edge over amateur Sam Bennett. The weather may play a role in how the golfers approach the course, and others will deal with the pressure of being at, or near, the top of the leaderboard differently.

Whichever golfer emerges from the weekend will come away with $2.7 million. The golfers who finish in second and third place will leave Augusta with over $1 million.


Updated Predictions

Koepka can handle the pressure of leading a major.

After all, he is a four-time major champion and has been in a similar vein of dominant form as his first two rounds at Augusta this year when he won those events.

The weather could be the great equalizer for Koepka to come back to the field a bit and allow for a fantastic finish on Sunday afternoon.

The Weather Channel forecast projects over a 90 percent chance of rain in Augusta, Georgia from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, which is the time window the third round is likely to be played.

The second round must be completed first, and it will take about two hours for the final group to finish 10 holes.

The temperature is not expected to break 50 degrees, which is a stark contrast from the near 80-degree weather Koepka played his second round in.

Koepka could be forced to play more conservative shots around Augusta National Golf Club to preserve his lead and avoid any weather-induced mistakes.

Of course, he will probably try to take a few risks on holes in which he believes he can earn birdies, but Saturday’s goal should be an even-par round to get through the poor conditions as much as possible.

How much pressure Koepka feels will be determined by Rahm’s second round back nine on Saturday morning. The Spaniard rolled in two straight birdies before play was suspended on Friday.

The conditions do not favor low scores on Saturday, and that may force a safe back nine from Rahm in order to get into the final pairing in the third round.

Bennett is the true unknown among all of the players on the front page of the leaderboard. The amateur thrived in the first two rounds, but now he has to deal with Augusta on the weekend for the first time and the blustery conditions on Saturday.

Bennett will not face the same pressure as Koepka will as the likely 36-hole leader, but there are many more expectations projected on him after his two straight 68s.

Collin Morikawa might be the golfer best equipped to surge from beneath the top three and into the conversation about potential winners.

The two-time major champion has six career top-10 major finishes, and he rarely made a bad shot in the first two rounds. He did not have the large volume of birdies as Koepka did, but he only had two bogeys in 36 holes.

Previous Masters champions Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed all reside in the top 10, and Hideki Matsuyama sits inside the top 20. Reed and Matsuyama have potential to rise up the leaderboard as they complete their second round.

Course familiarity is always key at Augusta, but it could be even more vital on Saturday as the golfers try to figure out the right on-course balance to deal with the conditions.

Do not be surprised if one or more of the previous winners with excellent local knowledge of the course find their way into the top five by the end of the third round.

There will be noise at the other end of the leaderboard as well since Tiger Woods needs to beat the projected cut line of two-over in the final seven holes of his second round.

Woods last missed the Masters cut in 1996, and he will have seven holes to match J.T. Poston’s two-over scoreline. Poston, who finished his second round on Friday, and Woods are tied for 50th place. The top 50 golfers and ties make the cut at Augusta. The cut line could move depending on other results on course, but if it does not, Woods needs to hit the target score of two-over.

Woods faded away in the third and fourth rounds with four scores of 72 or worse in his last two Masters following the 2019 victory, so even if he makes the cut, he could be finished long before the leaders on Saturday and Sunday.

Third-Round Leaderboard Predictions: 1. Koepka, 2. Rahm, 3. Morikawa, 4. Spieth, 5. Matsuyama

Tiger Woods Prediction: Makes cut but struggles to move up leaderboard in third round.

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