Masters 2012 Pairings: Notable Groupings for Day 3

Carlos TorresContributor IApril 7, 2012

The 76th edition of The Masters is at the halfway mark. And if you have figured it all out on how the weekend will unfold, go play the next Mega Millions—the odds would seem to be in your favor.

Something we have learned this year, and it remains true here, is that no lead is safe at any time, especially on Sundays.

On the 20-year anniversary of his win, 52-year-old Fred Couples is co-leading The Masters with Jason Dufner after two rounds.

Dufner, who last year lost the PGA Championship in a playoff to Keegan Bradley, is on the lead again on another major. I think it's time we start giving some credit to the former Auburn Tiger.

These two could very well be your final pairing on Sunday.

Don't laugh now. If you had guessed these two would be you 36-hole leaders, then seriously, let's talk about lottery tickets.

Twenty-three players are under par and within four shots of the lead. With the way the course is playing, a five-shot swing can happen anywhere at any time.

When you start to look down the leaderboard you start seeing marquee names like McIlroy, Westwood, Garcia, Mickelson, Watson, Watney, Kuchar and the list goes on and on.

Two names you probably won't see near the lead this weekend are Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. The two extremely disappointing surprises are battling to see who plays worst at The Masters.

They haven't seemed to find any consistency and have just been out of sync on everything they try.

All this circumstances make up for a very crowded leaderboard and some very interesting pairings for Saturday. The third round will start at 9:15 a.m. ET, when amateur Kelly Kraft will tee it off.

So let's take a look at some of the notable pairings you might like to keep a close eye on Saturday's third round:


Fred Couples/Jason Dufner (2:45 p.m.)

You have to watch the two co-leaders go head to head. Especially when one of them is 'Boom-Boom' and the other one is just the opposite.

It will be the battle between the ageless veteran who adores Augusta and has the name, against the player that has yet to win one but is making a name for himself.

None of them will fly under the radar the rest of the way and will now have all the pressure on them. It will be interesting to see now how they play now that the hunters have become the hunted.


Lee Westwood/Louis Ooshuizen (2:35 p.m.) 

Westwood entered Friday as the leader and looked poised to enter the weekend in position to win his first major. He is not on top anymore, but is hardly out of it.

Oosthuizen is just scorching the back-nine at Augusta. No one is playing it better than him—at six-under. He was at one-under today entering the 14th hole and now is at four-under for the tournament.

Two very good ball strikers that seem to be playing their best game. And they are just one shot off the lead, with the way the course is playing, they have as good a shot as anyone else.


Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia (2:25 p.m.)

To win The Masters you have to be a crafty ball striker, and there are hardly better strikers than Garcia and McIlroy.

Before there was Rors there was El Niño. Garcia used to be the European prodigy that everyone was expecting to become the next great one.

And now that Garcia is rejuvenated, what a better way to watch him play at The Masters than alongside the new prodigy, McIlroy.


Bubba Watson/Paul Lawrie (2:15 p.m.)

Two players with very different styles, but with a very common approach. They know how and when to take chances and make the best of them.

Watson birdied three holes on the back nine, including the par-fives and Lawrie closed with a remarkable run of three consecutive birdies today.

The creativity of both players on the course has given them a shot to be just one shot behind the leaders. They are two very likable players who happen to be playing great, are fun to watch and it only helps you have them paired together.


Phil Mickelson/Vijay Singh (1:45 p.m.)

A 52-year-old is atop the leaderboard, so why not watch the 49-year-old Singh? Besides, they have won seven majors between them, and if there are two players who really know how to play at Augusta, they are Lefty and The Big Fijian.

Mickelson is a player that has to be watched. You can just see it in his demeanor and approach even after his horrible start, that he is focused on doing what needs to be done to win this weekend. He is worth the price of admission.


Padraig Harrington/Hunter Mahan (12:25 p.m.)

Harrington is a three-time major champ and Mahan is a two-time WGC champ. 

Both have been hovering around the even-par mark, and have made their runs up the leaderboard just to see them back down. When they get hot, they can get really low and playing together might make them do just that.


Charl Schwartzel/Tiger Woods (10:45 a.m.)

The defending champ and the four-time champ are just not hitting all cylinders this week. 

They both have been missing on what the other is doing right. Schwartzel isn't driving the ball well but is doing fairly well with his iron game. Woods, on the other hand, is driving the ball well most of the time, but he's been awful with his irons.

Now if they could just talk things over and exchange thoughts, they might make a run up the leaderboard. We've seen them do that before.



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