“Well, yeah,” Fleetwood said with a laugh, and then added, using Johnson’s nickname, “Unfortunately, D.J.’s playing.”
Three golfers are tied for second behind Johnson at 12 under par: the Masters rookies Abraham Ancer of Mexico and Sungjae Im of South Korea, along with Australia’s Cameron Smith.
With softer-than-usual greens in this year’s Masters, a byproduct of heavy rainfall on Thursday and of varied November turf conditions, scores have been substantially lower. Each of the golfers in second place, for instance, has posted nothing but below-par rounds. When the delayed second round was finally completed early Saturday morning, the cut line to trim the field was 144 strokes, the lowest in Masters history.
“With the conditions being soft, you can be really aggressive no matter what club you have in your hand,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to be aggressive, and you’ve got to attack the flags.”
Not every golfer was as confident, or as fit, as Johnson.
Woods, who began the third round five under par, was clearly hobbled on Saturday by his unpredictable and surgically repaired back. He moved stiffly and did not swing with the same fluidity he had exhibited in the first two rounds. His condition was particularly noticeable when Woods went to retrieve his ball from holes, which he did gingerly and by bending only his knees to limit strain on his back. Finishing his round at even par, he was 11 strokes behind Johnson, which all but eliminates him from contention for a sixth green jacket.
DeChambeau, the pretournament favorite, revealed Saturday that he had not been feeling well and went for a Covid-19 test Friday night. Although the test result was negative, DeChambeau, who is 13 strokes behind Johnson, said he still felt under the weather and had been having bouts of dizziness.