Jordan Spieth will begin the final day at the Masters with a one-shot lead but playing partner Rory McIlroy’s bid faltered on day three at Augusta.
In a tough breeze, 22-year-old Spieth carded a one-over 73 to lead for a record seventh consecutive round.
Smylie Kaufman will play with his fellow American on Sunday, with former champion Bernhard Langer and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama a further shot behind.
McIlroy, 26, started the day one behind Spieth, but ended five back after a 77.
The Northern Irishman started his third round with genuine hopes of winning the Green Jacket after a late rally on Friday.
But his bid to become only the sixth man to win all four majors suffered following a birdie-free round featuring three bogeys and one double bogey which left him in a tie for 11th place.
McIlroy will tee off at 18:55 BST on Sunday, with the final pairing of Spieth and Kaufman going out at 19:45.
Sunday’s tee-off times
Relive Saturday’s third round at Augusta
Sloppy Spieth offers hope
Saturday was billed as a showdown between the final pairing of Spieth and McIlroy, but the expected battle between golf’s youthful poster boys failed to materialise.
World number three McIlroy struggled to find his rhythm throughout, allowing Spieth to take control without the defending champion being at his fluent best.
But while McIlroy was unable to pick up any shots, blowing a decent chance at the last by pushing wide a nine-foot putt, his rival still managed to grind out five birdies.
However, Spieth’s card suffered considerably with two rare double bogeys.
The Texan three-putted on the 505-yard, par-four 11th, offering hope to his nearest challengers who, at this stage, were Matsuyama and Langer.
He rectified that sloppy mistake with three birdies in the next four holes, opening up another four-stroke lead over 24-year-old Kaufman, who had emerged from the pack with three birdies of his own in the final six holes.
But Spieth’s poor final hole – driving right into the trees before falling 50 foot short of the pin with an undercooked third shot – gave renewed belief to the rest of the leaderboard.
“Two under with three to go and the wind at your side, I just got really wayward from there,” said Spieth.
“I just have to absolutely throw away the finish to this round, pretend it’s a new round, everyone is tied and you have to shoot the best score to win.
“I have to understand it’s the position I wanted to be in after 54 holes and not think about the finish to this round.”
McIlroy’s Green Jacket search set to continue
Spieth had earlier extended his lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-five second, where McIlroy had to settle for a par after missing from nine foot.
McIlroy dropped his first shot on the par-four third, whereas Spieth recovered from a wayward drive to save par and extend his lead to three.
By the turn, the world number two was four shots ahead, before McIlroy’s challenge faded when he pulled tee-shots at 10 and 11 on his way to dropping three shots.
That may have all but ended his Masters quest for another year, despite steadying the ship with seven straight pars on his way back to the clubhouse.
“I couldn’t get anything going really,” McIlroy said. “I am disappointed. I felt like I righted the ship a little on the back nine but couldn’t take the few opportunities I gave myself.
“If I am to take heart from anything then it’s the fact Jordan has just let a lot of people in after his finish.”
Langer rolls back the years
The day was billed as a showdown between the final pairing of Spieth and McIlroy – golf’s youthful poster boys – but it was a player at the other end of his career who threatened to steal the show.
Former world number one Langer, who won the Green Jacket in 1985 and 1993, was five shots adrift of overnight leader Spieth at the start of Saturday’s third round.
But the veteran German carded three birdies in a front-nine 35 to make the biggest progress on ‘Moving Day’ – the penultimate day of a major where contenders on the fringes know they must perform well.
Langer dropped a shot on the iconic par-three 12th, but bounced back with three straight birdies to take a share of second place with Matsuyama.
A loose tee-shot out right on the 18th left him scrambling, but he managed to limit the damage by holing a tricky seven-putt for bogey.
The Augusta galleries showed their appreciation for the unlikely challenger, now ranked 1,080 in the world, with a standing ovation.
“I believe I can win. Obviously it depends how the others do,” said Langer.
“If I play my best, I can shoot four or five under tomorrow, I think, if the conditions are a little bit better.”
How ‘brutal’ was Augusta?
The world’s best golfers struggled to tame Augusta in a testing third round caused by winds gusting up to 30mph.
Only five of the 57-man field managed to finish under par, with Kaufman carding the best round of the day with a three-under 69.
But the course was described as “brutal” by another American, Kevin Kisner, who shot a 76.
“Every shot is just guessing and hitting and praying. I never felt comfortable even on wedge shots all day and putts are just brutal,” he said.
“I watched Justin Thomas (his playing partner) hit a four-footer that went 55 feet. I mean you don’t see that stuff. It’s not supposed to happen.”
Asked what he could learn from the experience, he joked: “Yeah, you go home and have a beer and sit on the couch and laugh at everybody else.”
- Your complete guide to the 2016 Masters
- Masters on the BBC – coverage details
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