AUGUSTA, Ga. – Smylie Kaufman has never played in the final group on a Sunday on the PGA Tour. Even in his lone victory earlier this season in Las Vegas, the rookie began the final round seven strokes back.
So to say Sunday’s final pairing with world No. 2 Jordan Spieth at the Masters will be a new experience is an epic understatement.
“I’m just going to play my golf. I’m not going put extra pressure on myself to try to catch him,” said Kaufman, who is one stroke behind Spieth at 2 under par. “That’s how you get in trouble around here trying to press. I’m just going to keep playing like I’m playing right now.”
Kaufman shot a round-of the-day 69 in gusting winds to move into a share of second place and a coveted tee time on the game’s biggest stage.
The 24-year-old endured some of the day’s most difficult conditions, playing his first 12 holes in even par, before separating himself from the pack with birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 16.
“Our game plan the last couple days carried into today. I knew it was going to be difficult and just tried to stay committed,” said Kaufman, who is playing in just his second major. “I had a lot of tap-in pars and a lot of stress-free holes.”