Of course, that was before the weather became downright sadistic. Saturday dawned with temperatures in the 30s, and gusts throughout the day reached 23 mph. To keep the course from becoming unplayable Ridley and the boys moved up the tees, used most of the easiest pin positions and watered the greens, but the third round still turned into one of the most carnage-filled days in Masters history. Playing in the final group, Clark and Wetterich had a better-ball score of 76 as neither made a birdie en route to scores of 80 and 83, respectively.
By day's end the field's scoring average of 77.35 made it the ugliest Saturday since 1956. Despite a triple bogey at the 17th, Stuart Appleby was leading at two over par, the highest score ever for a 54-hole Masters leader. One stroke back was Woods, who had played a nearly flawless round until he limped home with back-to-back bogeys. Johnson was one back of Woods, holding on to fourth despite a 76 that included only one birdie.
"I was just happy to finish," Johnson said. "It was so cold on the last five or six holes, I could barely feel my hands."
On Sunday warmer temperatures and greens that had been further softened overnight led to a front-nine shootout that at one point featured a six-way tie for the lead. Overpowering the par-5s has always been the blueprint for success at the Masters, and multiple winners such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Woods and Mickelson have had that luxury.
Johnson resolved at the start of the week to lay up on every par-5, and on the 13th hole he had the discipline to stick to his game plan even though he was only 216 yards out. Johnson's caution led to some clucking on the CBS telecast, but he stuffed his wedge shot, and the ensuing birdie gave him the outright lead at two over. (For the week he would play the par-5s in 11 under, two shots better than Woods.)
From there Johnson put the hammer down, with aggressive iron shots leading to birdies at 14 and 16, the latter stretching his lead to three strokes. More remarkable than Johnson's fearless play was the utter comfort he projected.
Said Kim, "With it being Easter and our faith being so strong, I felt eerily calm, and I could see that in Zach too."
His playing partner, Taylor, had another read: "He's a tough guy. He showed a lot of guts."