Throughout a day that began with an eruption in the Twitterverse over a Tiger Woods rules violation and ended with Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker fighting free from the pack, the third round of the 2013 Masters Tournament never lacked intrigue and excitement.
On moving day at the Masters, there were moves aplenty.
Although the Augusta National Competition committee made the biggest move of the day before the first round even began, there was plenty of activity on the course as well.
Let's have a look at the winners and losers of this third day of 2013's first major.
Entering the week, meteorologists predicted that the 2013 edition of the Masters might be a soggy one.
Fortunately for players and patrons, there hasn't been an influx of the wet stuff through the first three days of the tournament. With temperatures in the high 70s, humidity near 20 percent and little wind, it was one of those perfect days at America's golfing treasure (unless you're Tiger Woods, that is).
Good weather is like good health; you don't miss it until you don't have it. The benign conditions at Augusta Saturday removed a variable (bad weather) that players, patrons and fans at home hate and allowed the best players to rise to the top of the leaderboard.
Frederick Scobie Ridley, chairman of the Augusta National competition committee, which oversees the little tournament they have at the course each April, probably won't have any new friend requests waiting for him next time he logs on Facebook.
Speaking of social media: In the midst of the brewing controversy this morning surrounding Tiger Woods' drop at the 15th hole, the Twitterverse exploded with calls for an explanation regarding the decision to dock Tiger two shots but refrain from disqualifying him.
Golf writer Steve Elling, for one, wasn't optimistic that Ridley would appear to plead his case:
Let's see how long it takes before Fred Ridley appears to explain the decision. I will start holding my breath right ... right ... never.— Steve Elling (@EllingYelling) April 13, 2013
Ridley eventually emerged, looking rather sheepish in his green jacket, to discuss the decision in an early afternoon news conference. However, this was several hours after releasing a statement regarding the decision, which he must have hoped would allay the Magnolia Lane-storming barbarians.
More importantly, though, Ridley and Co. blew the initial decision Friday. Following a call from a viewer, the Committee examined footage of Tiger's shots and determined that he hadn't violated Rule 26, thus allowing Woods to sign an incorrect scorecard.
Fortunately, Ridley and the committee (and Woods) were bailed out by Rule 33-7, which essentially gave them latitude not to disqualify Woods.
The right decisions were made with respect to the rules as they are written. However, the matter was handled in a bungling and almost predictably arrogant manner
If you either A) are Australian or B) watch the Masters annually, you've surely heard this next bit of information. And if you're both A and B, then you are abundantly aware that an Australian has never won the Masters.
Whenever that dubious fact is mentioned, somewhere Greg Norman feels his throat closing up and his palms getting sweaty.
Three of Norman's countrymen—Jason Day (-5), Marc Leishman (-5) and Adam Scott (-6)—will all have a chance at winning the green jacket tomorrow.
However, the odds of one of them winning can't be as good as Norman's odds were entering Sunday in 1996, when he began the final round with a six-shot lead. It might be best for Australians to hold off on any celebration party planning.
Woefully ignorant of Rule 33-7 and apparently unable to comprehend its significance after it was presented to him as the explanation for Tiger Woods not being disqualified Saturday, Nick Faldo had a real knot in his knickers this morning.
In a segment on the Masters' website prior to play, Jim Nantz awkwardly and somewhat paternally attempted to moderate a debate/discussion between Sir Nick and David Feherty. At issue: whether Tiger should be disqualified (or ludicrously disqualify himself) for, essentially, signing an incorrect scorecard.
Feherty, his brain actually functioning, revised his earlier position that Tiger shouldn't have been able to continue playing when presented with the competition committee's decision to take a mea culpa and invoke Rule 33-7. The decision absolved Woods of any penalty for signing for an incorrect number.
The Englishman, for whatever reason, stuck to strange platitudes about the integrity of the game and virtue rather than attempting to understand what had actually taken place.
When the CBS telecast came on the air, Faldo, his cerebral cortex now performing its duty, had revised his position. He finally endorsed the decision to penalize Woods two strokes without disqualifying him, but not before making a bloody fool of himself.
At least three players got the memo that Saturday is moving day.
Thorbjorn Olesen, who opened the tournament with a dismal 78, fired a third-round 68. The Dane's effort Saturday included an impressive eagle at the 13th hole and six birdies. After the first round, it looked like he'd have some unexpected free time this weekend. Heading into Sunday, though, he finds himself at even par.
Tim Clark (and I won't make a reference to his height here, since everyone else does) fired an impressive five-under 67 today to move to three under for the tournament. Likewise, Nick Watney got around in 68 and shot up the leaderboard. He presently sits at one under for the competition.
I awoke this morning to a firestorm of venom and fury on Twitter. Apparently, the game that I love and an institution I have a great deal of respect for—Augusta National—and their Masters Tournament had become a complete sham.
The reasoning, or lack thereof, behind this determination was that since Tiger Woods signed an incorrect scorecard, namely one asserting that he took 71 shots in his third round, rather than 73, the world No. 1 must be disqualified.
When the competition committee of Augusta National met this morning and determined that Woods would not be disqualified and would only receive a two-stroke penalty for a bad drop on the 15th hole, further breast-beating and indignation ensued.
In the midst of this hysteria and obsession with the black letter law of the Rules of Golf, the outraged neglected to consult the aforementioned text. If they had, they would have seen rule Rule 33-7, which states:
A penalty of disqualification may in exceptional individual cases be waived, modified or imposed if the Committee considers such action warranted.
Any penalty less than disqualification must not be waived or modified.
You can argue about whether the rule should have been added to the compendium of golfing law in 2011. Perhaps you can speculate as to the competition committee's decision to invoke the law in this case. However, you cannot allege that there was a breach of the rules of golf, or that the appropriate decision was not reached (albeit circuitously).
The short list of those who are happy Tiger Woods will play the weekend includes Augusta National, the PGA Tour, casual golf fans, the Tiger Woods faithful and, of course, El Tigre himself.
Were it not for the addition of Rule 33-7 to the rules of golf two years ago, Tiger would have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard following his second round.
Arriving like a deus ex machina, Rule 33-7, otherwise known as "the built-in loophole," allowed Mr. Ridley's committee to absolve Woods of his sins so that he might continue to his rainmaking ways this weekend.
Mr. Mickelson hit a ball in the water at each of the stations of veneration in his pilgrimage through Amen Corner Saturday. That's right—Phil went six, five and five (saving par) though 11, 12 and 13 Saturday en route to a third-round 77.
Lefty got it going in reverse early on a perfect day at Augusta with a bogey at the first hole. He made the turn in one over, and that's where the aforementioned fun began.
Phil made another bogey at the 14th before getting one back at the par-five 15th hole. However, as he presently sits at eight over through three rounds, he's a lot closer to the bottom of Augusta's signature white manual leaderboards than the top.
On the plus side for Phil, the Phrankenwood (the modified two wood he's used in lieu of a driver this week) has helped him find more than 70 percent of fairways through three days. Additionally, the further he plummets down the leaderboard, the less he'll have to pay in taxes. I know he gives that prospect a signature Mickelson thumbs up.
Angel Cabrera isn't exactly the embodiment of the modern golfer. The self-taught Argentinian isn't a dynamic 20-something with a distinguished pedigree. Rather, he's a balding 43-year-old ex-smoker who...well, let's just say he's not on the Tiger Woods fitness plan.
El Pato is also a two-time major champion.
Sure, he's never won a non-major event on the PGA Tour, but his determined effort at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont was incredible. He raised the U.S. Open trophy at one of the nastiest setups the bluecoats of the USGA have ever devised, and the win was as impressive as any major victory in the past 10 years. Ditto his playoff victory at the 2009 Masters over Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry.
The fact that he presently sits at No. 273 in the Official World Golf Ranking hasn't fazed the lumbering Argentinian through three rounds. With only a single blemish on his scorecard for the day, Cabrera took the outright lead at seven under with his fourth birdie of the day at the 10th hole.
Although he backpedaled a bit after that point, he's well positioned heading into the final round.
Seventy-nine. Let that number sink in for a moment.
That's what Rory McIlroy, the recently deposed world No. 1, shot at Augusta National in his third round.
Here's another number: two. That's how many times the young Ulsterman had to pencil in a "seven" on his scorecard Saturday. He triple-bogeyed the 11th hole and doubled the 15th. His performance was, in the most poetic of terms, bad.
Keegan Bradley, expected to play well at Augusta this year, opened with two consecutive rounds of 73. The St. John's grad must have been confused about which direction he ought to move on Saturday. Bradley fidgeted his way around Augusta for a third-round 82.
At least Bradley enters the final round assured of one thing: As he sits in last place, he can't fall any further down the leaderboard.
Baby Boomer Boom Boom (couldn't resist) Fred Couples and Alfred E. Neuman lookalike Brandt Snedeker have a few things in common. Both played spectacular golf Saturday, and both are Bridgestone Golf staffers.
The subsidiary of Bridgestone Sports doesn't have a huge presence on the PGA Tour, but the company will certainly be delighted with the television time its logo received Saturday—and likely will receive Sunday.
Snedeker began the day with 12 straight pars before birdies on 13, 15 and 16 catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard. Couples, for his part, rolled along smoothly in his third round until a double bogey at the seventh hole. However, the 53-year-old was steady from there until a triple bogey on 17.