Masters Day 3: Tiger in trouble as tournament remains open

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Tiger penalised as Snedeker and Cabrera share the lead heading into the final round at Augusta National.

The 2013 Masters promises a gripping final day after no single player assumed control of the tournament on Day 3. Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera  hold the clubhouse lead overnight, with a further eleven players sitting within five shots of the top spot.

The story of the day began long before Bubba Watson hit the first shot in the third round, as pre-tournament favourite Tiger Woods received a two shot penalty for an illegal drop on the 15th hole during his second round.

Woods had found water after his approach to the green hit the pin and rebounded into the guarding pond, and then opted not to use the drop zone and take his ball back to the spot where he played his initial approach. Retrospective television shots showed that Tiger had played his second attempt approximately 2 yards further back from the place where he took his first approach, with the rules clearly stating that such a shot must be played from as close to the initial position as possible.

What made matters worse was that Woods said the following in his post-round interview: “I looked over the drop area, it wasn’t very good, it was into the grain – a tough shot. So I went back to where I was and actually took two yards further back and tried to hit my shot another two yards off of what I felt I hit it”. 

That quote was seen by many as confirmation that Tiger had knowingly and deliberately flouted the rules, and by extension had also signed an inaccurate scorecard – an act which can be punished by disqualification. The authorities met and opted to award Tiger a two shot penalty but keep him in the tournament.

Glass-like greens made putting and approach shots extremely difficult, especially when you factor in the tricky Saturday pin positions. And so to Tiger on the course. A respectable round of 70 leaves the world number one three under par for the tournament and still in contention of pulling on the coveted Green Jacket tomorrow evening. However his odds have now lengthened and Tiger will need a magical performance tomorrow to get into contention.

Brandt Snedeker played the outstanding round of the day, shooting 69 to add to his two rounds of 70 on the first and second days. After a wonderful start to the PGA season, The Masters marks Snedeker’s full return to action following a rib injury, and if he plays well tomorrow then he has every chance of winning his first major.

2008 champion Angel Cabrera also remains in contention to win his second Green Jacket after a sparkling display of long hitting throughout the third round. The Argentinean has experience on his side and will hold the underdog status throughout the final round. Added to his spectacular length off the tee, Cabrera showed good touch around the green and played with a solid brisk nature which can only be bred through confidence.

Overnight leader Jason Day played extremely well for 16 holes, but two nervy putts on the 17th and 18th greens saw the Australian slip back to -5. An Australian has never triumphed at Augusta National, but Day, Adam Scott and Mark Leishman are all in contention heading into the final day.

Matt Kuchar currently sits on four under par, with Woods, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Tim Clark, Bernhard Langer and Steve Stricker all within five shots of the leaders. It will take a huge final day effort but anything is possible on Masters Sunday.

As was expected, the scores after the final day reflect the nature of Augusta National – which has been punishing at the best of times today. Glass-like greens made putting and approach shots extremely difficult, especially when you factor in the tricky Saturday pin positions.

Perhaps much like today, the man who eventually triumphs tomorrow will be the one who deals best with the conditions presented by the golf course. It is very much open ahead of the final day, and expect nothing but the highest sporting drama tomorrow evening.

After all, that’s what we love about The Masters isn’t it?

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