Masters: Snedeker, Cabrera top crowded leaderboard

9:18 PM, Apr 13, 2013   |    comments
(AP file)
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(USA TODAY) AUGUSTA, Ga. - Three players and an entire country well-versed in Masters heartbreak will start Sunday's final round with a good chance to change the narrative.

On a Saturday that was largely overshadowed by a controversy surrounding Woods' scorecard, it was Snedeker emerging as a co-leader with 2009 champion Cabrera at 7 under par, with Adam Scott a shot back in third and Jason Day two shots back in a tie for fourth.

All three of those players, besides Cabrera, have held the Masters lead on Sunday in recent years only to come up just short, or in Snedeker's case, implode in crushing fashion in 2008.

LEADERBOARD: The 77th Masters

Meanwhile, after going 0-for-76 in previous Masters, Australia will have representatives in three of the top five slots starting the final round with Day, Scott and Marc Leishman, who shot even-par 72 on Saturday and sits tied with Day at 5 under.

That foursome will try to beat Cabrera, who tied for the lead at 7 under with a birdie on No. 18 and hold off Matt Kuchar (4 under after a 69) and Woods, who is 3 under after carding a 70.

Though Woods will get plenty of attention from the leaders, there's a good chance someone will emerge with a first major title, which would be especially meaningful given their histories at Augusta National.

Snedeker, who won the FedExCup playoff last year and the $10 million prize that goes with it, still is probably best known for breaking down in tears during his post-round CBS interview after shooting 77 in 2008 as Trevor Immelman won the green jacket.

"I had no clue what I was doing in 2008. None," Snedeker said. "I had no game plan, no idea of when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, how to play this golf course the way you're supposed to play it. I have a clear focus on what I'm supposed to do (Sunday). If I do that, I love my chances of winning this golf tournament."

Though Snedeker hasn't truly contended on a major championship Sunday since 2008, he looked extremely solid Saturday, recording pars on his first 12 holes, then making routine birdies on the reachable par-5s, Nos. 13 and 15. But the highlight of Snedeker's day came on No. 16, the 170-yard par-3, when he stuffed his approach to within 3 feet and tied for the lead. Snedeker, who struggled with a rib injury leading up to the Masters, hasn't made a bogey since the ninth hole Friday.

"My short game is in really good stead, and I'm excited," Snedeker said. "I'm mentally fresh, I'm physically fresh, and this is what I've worked my whole life for is (Sunday)."

Scott has been in position to win a handful of majors lately, most notably last summer's British Open, when he collapsed with four consecutive bogeys down the stretch after looking like a sure winner. The 32-year-old also had a great chance to put on a green jacket in 2011, when he led by two after a birdie on No. 16, only to watch from the clubhouse as Charl Schwartzel passed him with an unprecedented run of four birdies at the end.

"I felt like I did everything I could, and it wasn't enough; that's how it goes sometimes," Scott said. "But it's going to take a great round. There are too many great players right there. I know someone else is going to play well, so I'm going to need to have a career round, and that's what these big events do. It's a career round that makes them a champion."

With the greens playing fast and difficult - the lowest score among the contenders Saturday was Tim Clark's 67 - Scott said he played conservatively and tried to be selective about when to fire at pins. But his putter came alive with a 12-footer for birdie on No. 15 and a 30-footer on 17, which puts him in right in the hunt again at a major.

Though Scott hasn't closed the deal yet, he has shifted his focus to preparation and scheduling to gear up for major championships the last few years, and he keeps showing up on the leaderboard.

"I've had less chances to win tournaments but more chances to win majors," Scott said. "Everything I'm doing seems to be getting me there right at the end."

His countryman Day also was right in the thick of the race in 2011, sharing second with Scott, and following it up with a second-place finish at the U.S. Open. Day, 25, has continued to be one of the world's best players following that breakout performance but has only one PGA Tour win to his credit.

"It's a great opportunity for all of us," Day said. "There's been some great, so many Aussies in the past that have had an opportunity to win the Masters and fell short a little bit. So if it happens tomorrow, that's great. If it doesn't, then we're going to keep plugging away."

Starting the third round with the lead, Day made 12 consecutive pars and got to 7 under with a birdie on the 13th. But three-putt pars on the last two holes left him tied for fourth, which was disappointing considering he hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation.

Cabrera, who hasn't been in contention much the past few years, has a good chance to ruin the story line for a potential Masters breakthrough. Despite his history of showing up in big events - in addition to his Masters victory, he won the 2007 U.S. Open - Cabrera has one top-20 finish in seven PGA Tour events this year. Last season he missed the cut or withdrew from 11 of 20 tournaments while struggling with a variety of injuries. Cabrera came into Augusta ranked 269th in the worldbut is always dangerous at a course like Augusta, where his prodigious length off the tee gives him a lot of birdie opportunities.

"I don't think it's a big advantage that I've won before," he said. "It's more about patience."

The biggest story of the day was the two-stroke penalty assessed to Woods on Saturday morning after the tournament's competition committee reviewed his drop on the 15th hole. The penalty left Woods five strokes behind the lead, and his third-round performance didn't do much to make up the deficit.

Whereas Woods thought a number of good shots went unrewarded in Friday's wind, his ball-striking was uneven Saturday. After making birdie on the first hole, Woods bogeyed Nos. 4, 9 and 11 to fall back to even for the tournament. He birdied both par-5s on the back nine, as well as the tough par-3 No. 12, but had to get up-and-down for pars on the last three holes.

Woods never has won a major coming from behind, and he'll start Sunday with six players in front of him.

 

 

 

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