2012 Masters Round 3 Recap
- Phil-ling It Up -- He may be a shot back but the day belonged to Phil Mickelson. Following a front nine in which he parred every hole, “Lefty” left the patrons of Augusta National abuzz after what he proceeded to do next. Needing to make a move, Mickelson birdied the tenth hole, one of the hardest on the course, and followed it up with another at 12. He was only getting started though and elicited the loudest roar of the day with a curling, 25-foot eagle putt on 13. A daring flop shot that only Mickelson could consider attempting led to another birdie on 15 and he closed his round with flair, hitting a thirty-yard hook shot to set up birdie and another fist pump. All told, it was a back-nine 30 for Mickelson, which tied his best nine-hole score at The Masters and helped bring the patented back-nine roars back to this Masters Saturday.
- Hanson Getting Hot -- Somewhat lost amid all the Mickelson hoopla was the equally brilliant play of Peter Hanson, the Swede playing in just his second Masters. He birdied four of his last five holes for a 65 -- the lowest round of the tournament -- and a one-shot lead over Mickelson. Like Mickelson, Hanson putted brilliantly, making two real long putts on 15 and 17 to keep pace. The two stars of Saturday will be paired in the final group on Sunday.
- “Moving…" In The Opposite Direction -- As is characteristic of Augusta National and its risk-reward nature, there can be runs up the leaderboard… and there can be train wrecks. For the second straight year Rory McIlroy found this out the hard way, shooting a shocking front-nine 42 en route to a 77. Sergio Garcia, paired with McIlroy, found the going tough as well, shooting himself out of contention with a 75. Paired together, McIlroy and Garcia could at least commiserate together after they both made unlikely birdies at 12. As for Tiger Woods, well, his club throwing (below) on Friday and Saturday produced far more news than his pedestrian round of 72.
- Leaderboard Separation -- After nearly 20 players were within three shots of the lead entering Saturday, there are now four. While anything can happen at The Masters, it’s now much clearer who might be donning the Green Jacket come Sunday evening. Hanson is at nine under and leads Mickelson by one, with Louis Oosthuizen two behind, Bubba Watson three back, and Matt Kuchar four back. A quartet of players is four under, but they’ll likely need a combination of a great round and some average play by the leaders.
- Sunday Anticipation -- With the back-nine bonanza that unfolded Saturday, expectations are high for a thrilling Sunday. While the other leaders offer compelling stories -- pre-tournament favorites like McIlroy and Woods are out of contention and most of the focus is on Mickelson, a four-time major champion and three-time winner at The Masters. His Saturday charge this year was very reminiscent of the electric back-nine 31 he posted in the third round of 2010, the last year he won The Masters. If he were to get the job done Sunday, Mickelson’s four green jackets would leave him in an exclusive club only inhabited by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods.
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