Masters 2011 Leaderboard: 10 Predictions for Rory McIlroy and Co. on Sunday

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IApril 9, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his approach shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

There are some certainties heading into the final round of The Masters, because it’s golf, because it’s Augusta National and because the leader is young, trying to win his first major championship.

  1. It’s Rory’s green jacket to win.  Or lose.  Rory McIlroy has a four shot lead on the nearest competitors, none of whom are named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.  Next closest are at -8: Angel Cabrera, who has already won a Masters, Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi and Jason Day.  Notice which country they are not from?
  2. Cabrera is the most dangerous man on the leaderboard. He has the game to beat McIlroy and doesn’t care if Northern Ireland thinks “The Kid” is the second coming.  Cabrera has a sneaky way of showing up when it counts at major championships. It would not be an upset for him to win another major. 
  3. Rory McIlroy has not yet had a “bad” round.  Saturday was his worst score, and that was two under par.  Typically, a golfer has to get over the one difficult day to win any tournament.  Then again, for all we know, McIlroy’s difficult day might have been Saturday.  He had two bogeys.
  4. Someone will shoot a 65 or 66, post early, and perhaps shock the leader.  But it will have to be someone at -5 or better to do that, and they would need help from whoever is leading at the time.  Someone like Y.E. Yang, Geoff Ogilvy, Tiger Woods or Adam Scott, especially Woods, might throw a scare into the leader.
  5. McIlroy will be nervous.  He will have a hard time sleeping on the 54-hole lead, if we are to believe every golfer who has ever led a tournament going into Sunday. Winning is not uncharted territory for him, but winning a major is.  However, everyone who knows McIlroy, including CBS’s David Feherty, says McIlroy can get it done.  He could win on no sleep. He’s young.
  6. Rory McIlroy will not get his wish to take on Tiger Woods head-to-head in a major championship.  This time.
  7. Phil Mickelson will not win another green jacket this year unless magnolia trees fall on about 15 golfers as they drive into Augusta National tomorrow, on those golfers who are ahead of him.  Amazingly, one magnolia did fall this week.  So it could happen. Did I see Bones with a dark green chainsaw?
  8. Tiger Woods’ game is still not ready for prime time. His missed short putts on Saturday show either lack of concentration or improper stroke. Only he knows which.  He should have finished more like -8 or -9 and been in the final group or one back.  That would have given Woods’ confidence a boost and changed the dynamic of McIlroy’s game on Sunday. 
  9. Anyone at -4 or worse is out of luck, and even -5 is a stretch.  Because of the severity of the golf course, only six players other than McIlroy have a realistic chance at victory: Cabrera, Schwartzel, Choi, Day, Scott and Luke Donald. They do not have much of one without a career round and a stumble by McIlroy.  Of course, as Nick Faldo demonstrated, it can be done.  Faldo told XM Radio that his goal in the final round in 1996 was to be -3 for the round at the ninth hole because he knew a four or five shot swing could easily happen on the back nine. Faldo was right.    
  10. Right now Ian Poulter’s comments are looking a whole lot smarter than they did yesterday at this time.  Poulter was asked if Woods’ game was in good enough shape to win.  Poulter said it wasn’t in good enough shape to finish fifth.  Right now Woods is ninth.

Strange facts about the leaderboard:

  • Cabrera didn’t play golf from August to January because his game was so bad.  He did not think he was playing well coming to Augusta. He said he’s “just getting his groove.”
  • Despite Adam Scott’s improved play with the long putter, nobody has ever won The Masters using one.
  • Adam Scott skipped school in 1987 to watch the final round of The Masters, which was on Monday morning in Australia. That year Larry Mize chipped in on the eleventh hole in a playoff to defeat Norman. 
  • McIlroy will be watching rugby Sunday morning. 
  • Lee Westwood isn’t on it.
  • McIlroy says he is trying to play stress-free golf.  In that case, he’s in the wrong place tomorrow.
  • Graeme McDowell loves McIlroy. At least that’s what he said in a text.  McIlroy believed a beer or two might have had something to do with it and said they would both have several tomorrow.
  • Tiger Woods started his round with a tee shot that landed in a divot.
  • Woods still believes he can win The Masters this year.

Quote of the day:  Rory McIlroy – “Four shots on this golf course isn’t that much.“