Far more favorable scoring conditions defined the third round of the 2013 Masters Tournament on Saturday. Plenty of shuffling occurred in the field, including a move made by Brandt Snedeker on the back nine to tie 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera atop the leaderboard.
Who will win the 2013 Masters?
Snedeker and overnight leader Jason Day—who three-putted the last two holes to fall off the pace—got off to eerily similar starts. Each logged 12 consecutive pars to begin their respective rounds.
The Nashville native had struggled due to a rib injury but looks plenty healthy now. Snedeker highlighted a back nine of 33 with a brilliant tee shot at the par-three 16th, and he firmly rolled in the short uphill putt.
To start the 2013 campaign, Snedeker was the hottest player on Tour, winning at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The reigning FedEx Cup champion now looks to notch his maiden major victory, and given how well he putts it, he has a great shot over the last 18 holes.
Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest pointed out just how strong Snedeker's form was to begin the season, but also referenced the crushing collapse he suffered at Augusta in 2008 playing in the final group:
Co-leader Brandt Snedeker had 16 of 17 rounds in the 60s earlier this year. When he was third five years ago, he shot 77 in the final round.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) April 13, 2013
Meanwhile, this is only the third major Cabrera has truly been a factor in, yet he has a golden opportunity to convert this impressive 54-hole effort into another triumph.
Angel Cabrera: 269th in world ranking. Only lower-ranked major winner is Ben Curtis (396th) at 2003 Open Champ. OWGR around since 1986.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 13, 2013
From @eliassports - 9th straight sub-par weekend Masters round for Angel Cabrera. Only streak longer: Tom Watson, 14 straight.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 13, 2013
A birdie on the final hole placed Cabrera in the joint lead after bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13 threatened to derail his bid for a second green jacket.
Day maintained his extremely consistent start throughout most of the round, but his flatstick let him down as play wrapped up.
Sky Sports Golf's official Twitter page depicted one of the spots of bother Day found himself in early on:
Look where Jason Day's ball finished on the fifth hole. twitter.com/SkySportsGolf/…— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) April 13, 2013
Even in those moments of adversity, the deliberate Day wiggled out of them unscathed. His patience through all the early pars was rewarded with a short birdie putt at the par-five 13th hole. A subsequent bogey by Leishman gave Day the lead by two.
Unfortunately, the three-jacks on the final two greens left Day out of the final pairing.
Two other Aussies are in hot pursuit too. Scott birdied three of the final six holes to post six-under, giving his country the best chance to this point. Round 1 joint leader Marc Leishman continues to be surprisingly resilient in his first true taste of major contention and remained at five under along with Day.
Adam Scott: "[Australians have] never looked better odds-wise going into a Sunday probably other than that one year in '96." Ouch.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) April 13, 2013
However, a sensational approach shot to three feet at the opening hole got the 14-time major winner off and running. After a bogey at No. 11 put Woods back at plus-one for the day, he capped off his run around Amen Corner with a birdie at No. 13.
Woods then hit a wonderful second shot at the par-five 15th that found the green, and he narrowly missed eagle thereafter. Three clutch par saves kept him at two-under in the end, and he's just four shots off the lead entering Sunday after a 70.
Golf.com's official Twitter page logged Woods' comments after the round regarding the penalty:
Tiger: "It was certainly a distraction early."— Golf.com (@si_golf) April 13, 2013
Any apparent lack of focus certainly dissipated for Woods as the day wore on.
Tim Clark was the player who took the biggest leap on moving day, though. Beginning at two-over, the 2006 Masters runner-up birdied five of the first seven holes to drive a round of 67 to tie Woods.
Another notable mover came later in Matt Kuchar, who fired a 33 on the opening nine to card a third-round 69, and he's alone in sixth place at minus-four.
Big names such as Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Lee Westwood and 55-year-old past winner Bernhard Langer lurk just five strokes behind. That is generally the margin contenders have a puncher's chance at overcoming on the back nine alone of Masters Sunday.
This will be a thrilling finish, headlined by Snedeker attempting to redeem his disappointment the last time he was in the last group and Cabrera vying for major No. 3 seemingly out of nowhere.
Cabrera dropped this snake of a putt in at No. 10 to grab the outright lead at seven under, which was the score he finished on.
Here is a look at the aforementioned beauty from Woods at the 15th, the same hole his third shot caromed into the water and the site of his two-stroke penalty in the second round.
D.A. Points may be well out of contention at plus-three, but the fiery American who won the Shell Houston Open to qualify for Augusta made the most of his round at the last hole. This magnificent sand shot gave him a birdie and a respectable 72 for the day.