Surprising Faces Atop the Leaderboard: Third Round Recap from Augusta

jonathan staub@JStaubSportTalkCorrespondent IApril 12, 2009

Sunday at the Masters is shaping up to be one of the most exciting final rounds in a major in recent memory.


With a host of new, and unexpected, faces atop of the leader-board, there is no telling how the final 18 holes are going to play out.


Angel Cabrera, who has never held the 54-hole lead in a PGA event, is tied with Kenny Perry at 11 under for the lead going into Sunday.


Cabrera, who won the U.S. Open at Oakmont two years ago, will be playing under more pressure than he has ever experienced on the big stage.

"I'm lucky enough to be in a very good position," Cabrera said. "I haven't been in this position before so I'll try to make the most of it."

If Cabrera can keep his assassin like accuracy around the greens, expect the Argentinean to be right there come the 18th hole.


Of all the records that have been set this Master’s weekend, Kenny Perry is looking to set the most important one. The 48-year old co-leader is looking to become the oldest player to win a major in PGA history.


Perry, who shined in his native Kentucky at the Ryder Cup, was able to overcome a miss-step around Amen Corner to finish with five straight pars.


Perry has held the 54-hole lead in 17 tournaments throughout his career. Victorious in 10 of those 17 tournaments, Perry has never played in the final group at a major; Cabrera has also never been in the final group at a major.


Perry had ominous words for Sunday. "You will definitely see something on the back nine," Perry said Saturday. "That's where it's all going to happen."

"This might be the last time I have this kind of opportunity," Perry continued. "I'm looking forward to it."

Chad Campbell continued to struggle in the final three holes. Bogeys on 16 and 18 leave Campbell finding himself two shots back at nine under.

"I've still got a good opportunity to win this golf tournament," Campbell said.

If Campbell can start off hot again, he could put some early pressure on Perry and Cabrera. Campbell has been playing the most consistent golf of anyone, and has not fallen out of contention yet.

Chad’s chances will hinge greatly on how good he starts his round off tomorrow.

Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker are lurking in the weeds and could pose serious threats on Sunday.

Furyk bogeyed only the 17th on his way to a 68. Sitting at eight under, Furyk is three shots off the lead and in prime position to make a run on a course that is highly compatible with his game.

"If I woke up tomorrow and I wasn't anxious, and I wasn't nervous, and I wasn't excited, I would be one beat away from dead," Furyk said.

Steve Stricker is also a serious threat that is flying under the radar. Shooting a bogey-free 68 has put Stricker at seven under, and four shots off the lead.

Furyk and Stricker find themselves in a very ideal position. They are only a couple shots off the lead, and the focus will be on the group playing in front of them.

If they can get into the clubhouse between eight and 10 under, they will have put the pressure squarely on Perry and Cabrera.

Tiger had another fabulous day foiled by his putter.

Opening with a double-bogey, after three-putting, Tiger continued to come within inches of running to the top of the leader board.

He finds himself tied with Phil Mickelson at four under, and seven shots back.

Mickelson did provide some optimism for the two, who will go head-to-head on Sunday, when he brought up one of the most valid points of the weekend.

"When it starts coming apart, it's hard to get it back," Mickelson said. "And it's easy to tumble."

Tiger and Phil will most likely turn in solid rounds on Sunday. A 68 or 67 could bolster the two to eight or nine under.

They will both, however, be playing smart in hopes that the field comes back to them. Limiting mistakes will be crucial for the two.


Hole 8 – Yellow Jasmine – Par Five – 570 yards

Jasmine played as the easiest hole on the course on Saturday.

Only two scores worse than par, both bogeys, were recorded. There were 22 birdies in the field, and Jasmine continued to be an opportunity for players to move into the red.

Cabrera and Campbell both found birdies on the Par five that was playing to an average of 4.6.

Expect this hole to loom large on Sunday. The winner of the Green Jacket will most likely make a move on this hole, as it has been one of the easiest holes all weekend.

Hole 9 – Carolina Cherry – Par Four – 460 yards

The ninth hole was in the middle of the pact again, playing as the eighth most difficult hole of the day.

Playing to a 4.1 average, there were only two birdies recorded on the day.

Only scores worse than par, all bogeys, made this hole more disastrous than helpful, but it remained uneventful for most of the field.

Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington were the only players to birdie the ninth hole.

The field chose to remain conservative on this hole, and there doesn’t appear to be much that will change come Sunday. It is imperative that those seeking a victory do not give any shots back on this hole.

Hole 10 – Camellia – Par Four – 495 yards

This hole could turn out to be the most important of all the holes come Sunday.


Playing to an even 4.0 average, there were five birdies and five bogeys recorded on this hole.


Players undoubtedly read my suggestions over the last two rounds...okay maybe not, but still…and decided to stay conservative on the 10th.


The winner on Sunday will most likely do the same in the final round.


The 10th hole doesn’t allow for many birdies, and being one of the toughest holes traditionally, it could make or break the tournament on Sunday.


Cabrera and Perry both birdied the 10th, and this will certainly boost confidence coming into the final round.


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