Cameron Smith in second behind Scottie Scheffler in 2022 Masters comeback, round three leaderboard

Cameron Smith will have an entire nation on his back as the Aussie with ice in his veins goes hunting for an epic Masters heist.

Golf World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler had held onto the lead at the Masters but Aussie Cameron Smith has stormed back to cut the lead to just three strokes.

Smith was second on four-under after the first round but slipped well back with a two-over day second round.

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But the mulleted Aussie burst back into contention with a massive day carding a four-under 68 in the best round on the course.

Scheffler, who started five strokes ahead at -8, finished the day at nine-under.

The story of the day was Smith however, who was the only player under 70.

While no player has had a bogey-free round, Smith had birdies on the second, sixth, eighth, 10th, 13th and 15th holes, while bogeys on the third and 16th stopped it from being an even better day.

Smith, who nailed 10 birdies to win the Player’s Championship three weeks ago will be looking to join Adam Scott as Australia’s only Masters champions.

And if he can win, Smith will go to No. 1 in the world.

“It just means I can get it done I guess when I’m up against the best guys in the world,” Smith said.

“It’s a good feeling to have. It’s earned. It’s not given to you.

“I’m going to have to go out there tomorrow and play really good golf again, probably similar to today. Hopefully everything just falls into place.

“I can’t control what anyone else is going to do tomorrow. Just go out there and really focus on myself.

“I’ve been watching this tournament since I can remember. Hopefully everyone gets up early and I can make some birdies.

“I’ll just try and keep it as simple as I can, try and keep it the same. Shoot the lowest score out there again tomorrow probably.

“I think it’s not going to be as windy tomorrow. Typically here on Sunday, especially the back nine, you can use plenty of greens to your advantage and have plenty of birdie opportunities.

“Just stay aggressive into the greens and just keep hitting quality shots.”

And in a great sign, NBC’s Brandel Chamblee said Smith has what it takes to win.

“I don’t know of another player that I’ve ever seen that seems as impervious to pressure as Cameron Smith,” Brandel Chamblee said on NBC’s Live From The Masters.

“I’ve never seen him succumb to pressure. When he was second here at The Masters he had a chance to win; he didn’t go out and play poorly at all. Never seemed to be bothered by the moment.

“It didn’t diminish him. Same thing at the Players Championship. He goes out there and makes a slew of birdies to begin, a slew of birdies to begin the back nine, made 10 birdies, if you were ever going to feel the nerves at the 17th hole at the Players Championship with a two-shot lead, wouldn’t you be looking 30 feet left?

“Tomorrow is a lot about talent but it’s about who is the most relaxed.”

Smith was two strokes in front of third-place South Korean Im Sung-jae, who shot a one-under 71.

Ireland’s 2019 British Open champion Shane Lowry and 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel both carded one-over par 73s to share fourth place on two-under 214.

The third round set up a massive finish to the Masters, even though Tiger Woods’s hopes of a victorious return from career-threatening injuries evaporated with his worst ever round at Augusta.

The fact that the 46-year-old was even able to tee it up — and make a 22nd consecutive Masters cut — was astonishing.

Scheffler didn’t have it all his own way either and was 10-under through 17 holes when his tee shot at 18 ended up in dense undergrowth left of the fairway.

It took a concerted search to find his ball and after wading into the bushes to see the situation he took and unplayable lie, belted a shot up to the green and limited the damage to a bogey.

“We saw the guy who always finds the balls kind of panicking. I thought, ‘Oh c**p,’” Scheffler said.

“Just getting it out of the bush and trying to make my five was key,” added Scheffler who said his heart rate “went up when they couldn’t find the ball but it went back down when they found it.”

It was a dramatic end to a round that featured half a dozen birdies and five bogeys, Scheffler maintaining his air of methodical calm throughout.

Leaderboard after round three of the Masters

-9: 207 – Scottie Scheffler (USA) 69-67-71

-6: 210 – Cameron Smith (AUS) 68-74-68

-4: 212 – Im Sung-Jae (KOR) 67-74-71

-2: 214 – Shane Lowry (IRL) 73-68-73, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 72-69-73

-1: 215 – Corey Conners (CAN) 70-73-72, Justin Thomas (USA) 76-67-72

Even: 216 – Danny Willett (ENG) 69-74-73

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