Ev­ery­one in Field On Wrong Side Of Par at Au­gusta

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - By Leonard Shapiro

AU­GUSTA, Ga., April 7 — The wind was up, tem­per­a­tures dipped into the 40s and scores con­tin­ued to soar above par dur­ing the calami­tous third round of the 71st Masters. Wel­come to golf’s new­est re­al­ity show: “Sur­vivor: Au­gusta Na­tional.”

Even Tiger Woods, the most re­source­ful player in the mod­ern game, even­tu­ally suc­cumbed. Af­ter craft­ing 16 holes of mostly bril­liant play, the No. 1 player in the world bo­geyed his fi­nal two holes for the sec­ond time this week in what he later de­scribed as “one of the hard­est rounds I think I’ve ever played here.”

But in the end, it didn’t mat­ter. All Woods had to do was wait about 90 min­utes af­ter his third round had ended, and al­most ev­ery­one ahead of him had backed up to about where he wanted them. He will en­ter Sun­day’s fi­nal round only a shot off the 54-hole lead held by Aus­tralian Stu­art Ap­pleby, who made triple bo­gey at the 17th hole yet still shot 73 for a 2over to­tal of 218.

Ap­pleby will be at­tempt­ing to be­come the

first Aus­tralian to win a Masters, and he also will have the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of post­ing the high­est score ever by a third-round leader, sur­pass­ing the even-par 216 by Jack Nick­laus and Tommy Ja­cobs in 1966. He will play in the fi­nal group with Woods, tied for sec­ond at 3-over 219. His third even par or worse round of this wicked week marked only the sec­ond time in his 10-year ca­reer that Woods has gone three straight rounds with­out a score un­der par.

“It was a tough day with the wind gusts,” Woods said. “You hit qual­ity shots and just get ab­so­lutely hosed. You get com­mit­ted to hit the proper shot and get lucky at the same time with the wind.”

Woods was joined at 3 over by English­man Justin Rose, who bo­geyed two of his fi­nal three holes and posted a 75 — 219. Au­gusta na­tive Vaughn Tay­lor, lead­ing the tour­na­ment when he birdied the 15th hole, then bo­geyed his last three for 77 — 220 and was in a three-way tie for fourth with Padraig Har­ring­ton (75) and Zach John­son (76).

To win his fifth Masters cham­pi­onship and 13th ma­jor ti­tle, Woods will need to over­come a three­r­ound deficit at Au­gusta for the first time. Woods al­ways has in­sisted that the tougher the con­di­tions, the bet­ter he likes it. And for most of his first 16 holes, he hardly seemed fazed by the swirling 25mph gusts, fin­ger-numb­ing chill and treach­er­ous greens.

But a drive in the trees at the 17th led to a missed 20-foot par putt, and he missed the green with an approach at the 18th that led to an­other tough chip and a missed 18-foot par putt. Woods again was fu­ri­ous with him­self for giv­ing away those two pre­cious shots, but Ap­pleby was re­mark­ably com­posed de­spite that triple bo­gey, which in­cluded a missed three-foot putt.

He also played some mag­nif­i­cent golf that in­cluded three con­sec­u­tive birdies early in his round to launch him to a two-shot lead he man­aged to keep through 16 holes. Then he yanked his tee shot at the 17th hole into a bunker on the ad­join­ing No. 7 and even­tu­ally walked off the green with a 7.

Ap­pleby had a chance to atone some­what on the 18th hole when he left him­self an eight-foot birdie putt, but at the last pos­si­ble mo­ment, it veered slightly off line and stopped about two inches from the cup for a round of 73.

“ I just hit a straight pull left,” Ap­pleby said of his tee shot at 17. “It was a com­edy of er­rors af­ter that. Look, stuff like that hap­pens. . . . To­day, it was a real fight out there. There are bo­geys be­hind ev­ery cor­ner all day. The course is ready to slap you in the head if you do any­thing wrong.”

How dif­fi­cult were the con­di­tions?

“It was like try­ing to land a golf ball on your drive­way,” Rich Beem said af­ter his third-round 75 — 227. “But your drive­way has mounds on them and they stick the pin near the mounds. The wind was blow­ing from all dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. Some­times you just have to gig­gle about it.”

It did not take all that long to sep­a­rate con­tenders from pre­tenders.

The 36-hole co-lead­ers, Brett Wet­terich and Tim Clark, played to­gether, and if mis­ery truly loves com­pany, they were the per­fect pair­ing.

Clark, the run­ner-up here in 2006, was the first to sag his shoul­ders when he made four bo­geys on his first five holes, miss­ing a 12footer for par at the 455-yard No. 1 and an eight-footer at the 575-yard No. 2. By day’s end, the South African had plum­meted to a round of 80, though he still was in a tie for eighth place at 6-over 222 and only four shots out of the lead.

Wet­terich made a bo­gey from the left trees at the sec­ond hole and a triple bo­gey at the seem­ingly be­nign 350-yard No. 3. His sec­ond shot at the third was over the back of the green, and his third shot whooshed past the pin and car­ried back down the slope in front of the green. His fourth went over the back again, and a chip and two putts later he had gone from 1 un­der to 2 over and never re­cov­ered, soar­ing to an 83 and 9-over 225.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Phil Mick­el­son man­aged to get to 4 over for the tour­na­ment with a birdie at the sec­ond hole. He played the front nine in even par, and when he made the day’s first birdie at the 440-yard 14th with a 10-foot putt, he was at 5 over. But a three-putt par at the 530-yard 15th and a bo­gey from the bunker at the 170-yard 16th ended any real hope for a back-nine charge.

Mick­el­son al­most holed out for ea­gle at the 18th but missed a 15foot birdie putt and had to settle for a 73, leav­ing him at 6 over.

“Tough as I’ve seen,” Mick­el­son said. “Ob­vi­ously I needed to shoot un­der par to put my­self in con­tention. I fought hard to where at least I have a chance. I feel like I have to shoot in the 60s to have a chance — 14 pars and four birdies. That’s kind of the game plan. . . . There’s a good chance some­body who goes off early and posts a good num­ber can pos­si­bly take the ti­tle this year.”

Still, the win­ner of the Masters has come out of the fi­nal group on Sun­day for 16 straight years go­ing back to Ian Woos­nam’s vic­tory in 1991.

Asked about play­ing with Woods over the last 18 holes, Ap­pleby said: “He won’t even know I’m there. . . . You’re not go­ing to have a shoot-fest out there. It’s go­ing to be a bat­tle of at­tri­tion.”


Brett Wet­terich nav­i­gates his way through the trees at the sev­enth hole. Wet­terich en­tered the day lead­ing at 2 un­der par but fin­ished it at 9 over.

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