A sincere thanks for tuning in, blog lovers (and loathers)! It's been fun. We'll see you tomorrow.
Oh, update! Tiger Woods is having shrimp scampi for dinner…
Campbell 2-putts for bogey. He'll play in the second-to-last group tomorrow with Furyk. Perry leaves his birdie short, then taps in for par. So tomorrow, Cabrera will try to kill Kenny, in the final group.
Speaking of pairings, Nantz says, "It's highly likely that Tiger and Phil will be paired tomorrow."
Angel "El Pato" Cabrera taps in for par on 18. Perry smacks an iron to about 15 feet on the last, hole-high. The co-leader has a good look at birdie. Campbell punches out into the fairway, about 100 yards out, then tugs his approach a bit, leaving about 30 feet for par.
On 18 tee, Perry made a confident swing that split the fairway. He looks like a man very comfortable with leading the Masters. Campbell, despite his birdie on 17, still appears rattled by his double-bogey on 16. He found pine needles right of the fairway and may struggle to reach the final green in two.
Co-leader Angel Cabrera made a brilliant recovery shot on 18. He'll have two putts for par.
6:46PM We have a special guest blog comment from comedian Lewis Black, a frequent guest on the Daily Show. (Seriously, we do.) Black is a golf nut. I asked him who he was rooting for this weekend. “You know who I’m not rooting for?” he said. "Anyone who credits God for winning him the Masters. I hate that. I remember rooting for Zach Johnson. Nice guy. Underdog. Then he opens his mouth and he’s all 'God this and God that.' Sorry, Zach, but God wasn't with you on the back nine at Augusta. He was busy in Somalia, where he was needed.”
Sooo, Happy Easter from Lewis Black! 6:45PM
Who says Campbell can't putt?! Chad bounces back with a slooooow rolling birdie putt on 17. Perry 2-putts for par.
Doug, the Duck fan, chimes in: "Watching Campbell and Perry is like watching Fox news, conservative and uptight. Cabrera is like the Daily Show. Let's have some fun and let the chips lie where they fall."
Sunday's final group may well be Kenny and the Duck (my favorite '80s detective show, incidentally.)
Campbell's putt slides by the right edge. Double bogey. Perry makes a ticklish 3-footer for par. And here comes "the Duck!" Cabrera rolls in a birdie on 17 to join Perry atop the leaderboard, at 11-under.
The "chunk" heard round the world. Campbell leaves his bunker shot on the beach, then puts his third shot to 4 feet. He'll have a bogey putt.
Advantage, Perry! Kenny found the middle of the green on the par-3 16th. Campbell flew his iron into the far-right bunker. So, all Chad faces is a green like glass, running away from him, with water to worry about should he hit it thin. Bogey, or worse, looms.
The leaders both make par. No drama. It's a two-man shootout with blanks. Onto 16.
Laying up on no. 15? These two brilliant ball-strikers? Sacrilegious! After their wedge approaches, Perry is putting for birdie; Campbell will putt from a couple of paces over the green. Sigh. Where's the drama? What did Byron Nelson say about laying up at Augusta? "The Lord hates a coward."
From 253 yards, Campbell lays up on the par-5 15th. As Feherty points out, it's still a tough wedge approach. Birdie is not easy. "I wouldn't have laid up there," Feherty adds. Perry also lays up, putting his ball in a much better spot in the right fairway, with more green to work with. For those of you not near a TV, the pin is cut on the green's far left side.
No. 17 just jumped up to bite Furyk, who made bogey to drop to 8-under. Campbell and Cabrera still share the lead at 11-under. They're playing no. 15.
Another ho-hum par for Campbell on 14. Did you see the way his approach looked ideal, then slid down the slope? Nick Faldo told me, "At Augusta, what you don't see on TV is how your approach must land on a target the size of a manhole, literally, on most greens. If you miss that tiny spot, you might have a 40-footer, instead of a 10-footer. Missing your target by a foot can mean a much longer putt."
A critique of co-leader Campbell from Dr. Joe Parent, the mental-game expert who has worked with Vijay Singh and David Toms. "Chad looks like he's playing in the present, as the saying goes," says Parent, author of the new book Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game. He's not thinking about what it would be like to wear the green jacket. He's not 18 holes into the future. He's not thinking about the implications of a given shot. He's just playing golf. That's what Kim did yesterday. He wasn't worried about result. We can all learn from that."
Nantz just pointed out that Campbell's round is as neat and tidy as a dresser drawer — not one bogey on his card. Yet.
Perry 2-putts for birdie on the par-5 13th, back into a tie with Campbell at 11-under. Three thrilling holes to play.
Phil and Tiger may be paired on Sunday. "I would LOVE to see Phil and Tiger paired together tomorrow," says one poster. "But I think it would take away from the real story of Kenny and Chad and Angel trying to win."
It's better to be lucky than good — but it helps to be both. Furyk just chipped in from a few paces off the green on 15 for his third straight birdie. He's now at 9-under, only 2 strokes off the lead.
Campbell decided to lay up on 13. After 2 straight bogeys, Perry, from 218 yards out, decided to go for the green in 2, perhaps the biggest swing of his career. He drew a long iron into the center of the green. Eagle putt of about 40 feet.
Campbell and Perry both find the fairway on 13, the greatest par-5 in golf. Expect them both to gun for the water-guarded green in two.
Back to the action. Perry made bogey on 12. He overcooked his approach, poor chip, and couldn't convert a long par putt. Campbell made par, but he missed a 6-footer for birdie. Campbell takes a 1-stroke lead.
A parting shot on the topic of Tiger, eloquently stated by a poster named Heather:
"Here's the thing: Tiger is always a factor, even when he's out of it. Because no matter how far back he is, if he makes ANY kind of run early tomorrow, that could have a huge psychological effect on the people ahead of him on the leaderboard. There's the Tiger Factor when it comes to him as a golfer, and The Tiger Factor when it comes to him as an intangible and the way his play and presence can get into the heads of the people around him. He's always relevant, even when you think he's not.
"And also, even when he's behind, it's fascinating. Watching one of the best golfers in history struggle can be just as intriguing and informative, and dramatic, as watching him succeed."
Heather, I'm turning this blog over to you…
No. 11 bares its teeth again: Perry couldn't convert an 8-foot par putt. Bogey. He and Campbell are again tied for the lead, at 11-under, as they approach the 12th tee.
Tiger reflects on his round:
"Today's as hard as I ever fought to get a score… At least I'm in a position where if I play a good round [on Sunday] I'm there."
Tiger brushes in the putt on 18 to avoid making bogey there for the third straight day. But he needs help from the leaders. He's currently 8 strokes behind Perry.
Updates: Perry birdied no. 10 to take sole possession of the lead, at 12-under. Campbell is 1 stroke back, at 11-under. Cabrera is at 10-under. Right now, it's a 3-man Masters. Meanwhile, Woods left his birdie chip on the last 8 feet from the hole. He has to grind to make par.
Woods flew his iron approach on 18 a few feet over the green. He now has to sweat to make a closing par. And Mickelson made a bogey on 16 to give a stroke back.
Of course, I can't leave out Cabrera, at 10-under. If I had to bet my (malfunctioning) golf clubs on one name on the leaderboard, I'd go with the U.S. Open winner. Cabrera is a cocky S.O.B. on and off the course, and I mean that in a good way. You have to think very highly of yourself to win a major.
After an aggressive approach to 17 green, Tiger made his birdie putt, to move to 4-under, tied for 9th. So much depends on whether or not co-leaders Campbell and Perry fall back to the pack. They're on 10 green now with birdie putts. Amen Corner awaits.
Well, well, well… Mickelson is back in it, as he drops a birdie putt on 15; he's now 5-under. Meanwhile, Cabrera's climbed to 1 back, at 10-under. And Furyk, of course, never goes away. Major winners everywhere…
A comment from Scott:
"Regarding the 'controversy' about being too Tiger-centric, it's always fashionable for the 'cooler than school' crowd to hate Tiger because he's Tiger. Reminds me of those who don't like U2, just because, um, well, they're U2."
"Stop talking about Tiger already," NJ Hacker asks. "He is not even a factor here."
I disagree. Woods, who tapped in for par on 16, is 8 back. He probably won't win. There are too many people and strokes between him at theleaders. And yet. If there's one player at one event who can still forge a comeback, it's TW at Augusta. At the U.S. Open, he'd be toast. But this course was designed to make up ground in short order. And this year is the first since the course was lengthened that big numbers can be posted (see: Anthony Kim yesterday).
Mr. 14 Majors drained his putt on 15 for birdie, and gave the crowd a tip of the cap. He's 8 back.
Update on He Who Should Not Be Named On This Blog (the guy with the Swoosh): He spun a wedge to about 10 feet on 15, for birdie. He was in trouble off the tee. Not only is his putting cob-webby today, but his driver is as straight as a N. Korean rocket.
Writes Bill: "A Perry win would bring back memories of 1986, but Jack did it as a 'lurker' with a final 9 for the ages. Can Perry really stay so carefree when he has to lead for a day and a half?"
OK, question, golf fans: If Perry wins, at 48, is that a greater feat than Jack's win, at 46, back in '86?
Another dispatch of the Dept. of Enough About Tiger: "You would never know someone had a round of 11 birdies yesterday. It most certainly wasn't Mr. Woods."
Several fascinating stories are converging today. I can't put it any better than poster Harlan, who writes:
"Great storylines. Sergio trying to win Green Jacket in the year his mentor, Seve Ballesteros, fights through cancer. Perry trying to become oldest to win Masters or any major. Anthony Kim wins Masters in his first appearance. So many could play out today and Sunday."
A reader asked a question about Steve Stricker's chances. Stricker has quietly snuck into the top 4, going 3-under on his front nine today. He's 6-under for the event. I'd be surprised to see Stricker take the green jacket, though not to see him finish well. Consider: He's banked over $10 million in Tour earnings over the last 5 years, and his world ranking has skyrocketed. But he's only won once. Once. He seems to lack the killer instinct of a closer.
The human amusement park ride that is Phil Mickelson just made bogey on 11. Meanwhile, Tiger cozied his eagle putt on 13 to gimme (for him) range. An apt comment from Kostis: "The course is there for the taking, and [Phil and Tiger] are getting frustrated that they're not taking advantage." They both seem to have lost their swagger, he added. Woods made his birdie and he sits 9 shots back.
A reader is loving our Jim Nantz poetry challenge. He writes:
"On 16 stands the stalwart Lundquist/ Slaking his thirst with juice of Sunkist"
The Bard himself could have done no better.
From 250 yards out, with the ball above his feet, Tiger knocked a fairway wood onto the green of the par-5 13th, in two. It was a moment of truth for Tiger, CBS's Peter Kostis says. Tiger's a mile away from an eagle, but you can count on him 2-putting for a much-needed birdie.
I wonder what the dynamic is like between Tiger and his caddie Steve Williams today. Williams likes to needle Woods when he's not playing well. It's a way of relaxing him and loosening him up. In the playoff at last year's U.S. Open, after Tiger botched the opening hole, Williams said, "Well, that wasn't very good now, was it?" They joked about it. Somehow, I don't see them sparring today.
Woods burns the edge of the hole on 12, to remain at 1-over for the day, 1-under for the week. Says Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Rick Grayson, "You never see him miss so many putts in majors that he wins. He's missed a lot this week. He just has that look about him this week like he's not all the way back from his 9-month layoff."
Perry now has a one-shot lead on Campbell, through 4. Can Chad Campbell win? Former U.S. Amateur champion Mitch Voges told me, "Chad will probably keep hitting fairways and greens, but I don't know if he can make enough putts to pull it off down the stretch. He's kind of a Jeff Maggert type — solid ball-striker, but he doesn't seem to get it done in the big ones."
Hello, friends. Here's your Golf.com challenge. Please compose a poem containing these phrases, which Jim Nantz just gushed in his CBS intro: "Bathing in sunshine," "kaleidoscope of color," "Augusta melody." And, go! (Bonus points if you can find a rhyme for "Lundquist.")
Ahh, better late than never. CBS coverage has begun. I did a little fuzzy math. With 56 minutes of (almost) commercial-free golf each hour, you get almost as much TV coverage on a given day at the Masters as you would on NBC's commercial-interruption-o-rama U.S. Open broadcast, which starts at about 1:30pm. I prefer it the Masters way.
Poster Doug isn't loving our Tiger-centric coverage. He writes, "Is this a blog on the Masters or a blog on Tiger?…Man, so many people are drinking the Tiger kool-aid…"
Doug, to quote the modern-day poet Ice T: "Don't hate the playa, hate the game." People are fascinated by Tiger Woods, whether he's leading the Masters or mowing his lawn. Fourteen majors has that effect.
Anyone disagree? Post away.
After making a par on 12, Villegas had to lay up on the par-5 13th. He has a birdie putt from about 25 feet.
3:21PM Sports Illustrated Senior Editor Dick Friedman is intrigued by the diverse leaderboard: "The sheer quality and variety of the leaderboard is fascinating. It reminds me of the recent NCAA Sweet 16, in which you could have made a legitimate winning case for every team. Almost everyone, beginning with the guys at 2-under, could end up wearing the green jacket. Todd Hamilton, you say? Well, he HAS won a major. Anthony Kim? Any guy who throws 11 birdies up has to be considered. Hunter Mahan? Proved himself in the Ryder crucible. And so on… Add in the big names, and you have a splendid Saturday." 3:12PM
Currently, there are 22 players and 7 strokes that separate Tiger Woods from the co-leaders. You know Tiger is destined to win at least one major in comeback fashion. He's never done it. Arnie did it (in 1960, at the U.S. Open). Jack did it (here, in 1986). When will Tiger make a major charge? We may find out over the next hour or two if 2009 will be his comeback special.
Tiger has just birdied the par-4 ninth, to draw to even on the day, after slipping on a banana peel on hole no. 1.
And the leaders are off! Both Perry and Campbell (9-under) made pars, surviving the second-toughest test on the course today, at least statistically speaking. According to Golf.com's David Dusek, the first hole is playing the second most difficult this week, with a 4.32 stroke average. Only the 505-yard par-4 11th is more bruising today, at 4.4.
Phil is coasting nicely. He's followed a birdie on the par-5 second hole with 5 straight pars. (What did Johnny Miller say about making pars at majors? "They wear little white hats.") He's crept into the top 8, 4-under for the event. Villegas made bogey on 11, to drop to 3-under for the event. On to the dangerous par-3 12th, and the wind has picked up since this morning.
Villegas' superb round (2-under on the day, 4-under for the week) is in danger of stalling. He left a 50-55 footer about 8 feet short on 11. He'll have to make a tough putt to save par.
Says Eric from L.A. "Tiger couldn't give a [expletive] about that stat. What makes him great is that he's not affected by the kinds of things you media types focus on. You're just trying to drum up drama." Guilty as charged, Eric.
A stat that Tiger doesn't want to hear right now: 17 of the last 18 Masters winners were in the top 5 at the event's halfway point.
Here's a detailed report on how Tiger botched his opening hole today, from Sports Illustrated's Damon Hack, who is close to the action:
"After an animated discussionon the range with his swing coach, Hank Haney, following Friday's round of 72, Tiger Woods began his third round Saturday with one of his worst swings of the tournament. Woods yanked his opening drive of the third round into the trees, leaving him with a tough angle over a greenside bunker to a pin cut six yards from the right edge. Woods then air-mailed his approach long and right, then flubbed his chip so badly that it rolled back towards him on the green. With 30 feet left for par, Woods left his putt 5 feet short, missed the putt for bogey, and began his day with an unsightly double-bogey 6."
Tiger failed to convert a birdie chance on 7. They'll be steam a-comin' out of his ears if he fails to make at least a birdie on the par-5 8th.
An update: Tiger Woods made a double-bogey on the first–he hit it into the trees on the left, then three-putted to fall back to even. But he bounced back on the par-4 3rd with a birdie. He stands at 1-under for the tourney.
It's a tradition unlike any other–the Golf.com Masters blog, that is. Welcome back, Green Jacket-heads. It's Moving Day at the Masters. We've got Amen cornered every step of the way with analysis, stats, inside dope, and play by play leading up to CBS' 3:30 p.m. ET coverage.
Most important? You. Your posts fuel this locomotive, so send me your thoughts as play unfolds, and we'll get this Masters roundtable started.