AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – If not for ol’ No. 18, Retief Goosen would be in great shape.
The two-time U.S. Open champion is 6 over, four strokes off the lead going into the final round of the Masters. But he’s played the par-4 18th at 4 over through the first three rounds, including a bogey Saturday.
Make par on 18 the first three days, and it would be Goosen, not Tiger Woods, playing with Stuart Appleby in the final group Sunday.
“It was a disappointing finish,” Goosen said. “It would have been nice to get a couple in in the last few holes as I would have been right back in it.”
Still, Goosen did make the biggest move of the day, jumping into a tie for eighth from 46th place.
With chilly temperatures and a gusty north wind causing scores to balloon across the leaderboard, Goosen had the only sub-par round in the field, a 2-under 70. Woods and Lee Westwood were the only players who even got close, each shooting 72.
The field averaged 77.35 strokes, the highest-scoring round since Augusta switched to Bentgrass greens in 1981.
“Retief shot a fantastic score and probably played in colder conditions,” said Appleby, who teed off about 3+ hours after Goosen. “I’m sure his round would have been littered with some par saves, near misses.”
Starting on No. 7, Goosen had birdies on three of the next five holes to bump himself up the leaderboard. He had another birdie on the par-5 15th, hitting a sand wedge to 3 feet.
But he found himself in trouble – again – on 18. He hit a 5-iron to the right side of the green, then chipped to the fringe before two-putting. He bogeyed the hole Thursday, and made double on Friday after losing a ball in the trees.
Goosen is well aware that might be too much to overcome Sunday.
“I might be a little bit too far behind,” he said, “unless I shoot 64 or something tomorrow.”
BIG FINISHES: U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy won a pair of crystal goblets for that nice eagle he made on the par-5 13th hole.
And for the 9 he made two holes later? Well, he’ll get to enjoy a pressure-free round at Augusta National on Sunday.
Ogilvy tried to play smart on the par-5 15th, laying up for the third shot over the water and onto the narrow green. But that third shot hit short and trickled down the closely mown hill into the water. His caddie tossed him another ball and he dropped it at the exact same spot – and suffered the exact same result.
His 9 was the highest score recorded this week. It didn’t match the highest score ever on the hole – an 11 – but that wasn’t the point. The quadruple bogey dropped Ogilvy from a tie for sixth place into a tie for 19th. He finished at 10 over, eight strokes out of the lead.
Ogilvy wasn’t the only one livin’ large on the back nine.
Stuart Appleby posted a 7 on the par-4 17th that briefly cost him the third-round lead. Luke Donald dropped a couple of spots on the leaderboard with a double on 18.
Appleby put his tee shot into a bunker – on the No. 7 green, the next hole over. He then hit into another bunker, though it was at least on the right hole. Then he finished it off with a three-putt.
“I would love to have that sand shot again,” the Aussie said. “It’s not that I was being greedy, but look, I should have been in the middle of the fairway, no two ways about it. Or somewhere a bit more respectable.
“That was the hole that I let a couple of shots slip, for sure.”
But it didn’t cost him too much. Appleby finished the day at 2 over, good enough for a 1-stroke lead.
NO WILTING ROSE: Justin Rose wasn’t about to complain about his round. Compared to the debacle he endured three years ago, the nasty conditions at Augusta seemed quite pleasant.
Leading after two days in 2004, the Englishman found trouble everywhere. Wood, sand, water, rough – the only thing he missed was the Eisenhower Tree along the 17th fairway. He shot a 9-over 81 that matched Lee Trevino for the worst third round ever by a 36-hole leader at the Masters.
And after bogeying his first two holes Saturday, Rose looked as if he was headed for another horrid day.
But he made a nice up-and-down on the par-4 No. 3 and holed a putt to save par on No. 4. Three holes later, he made a birdie that was his first in 37 holes.
His 75 left him tied for second with Tiger Woods at 3 over.
“Obviously I got off to a bad start. Somewhat reminiscent of my third round three years ago. Which some people might remember,” said Rose, who is back at Augusta for the first time since 2004.
“What I was really pleased with today was that didn’t really affect me,” he said. “I played one shot at a time, managed to create a little bit of momentum. … It really turned my round around … and then I began to feel quite confident.”
BACKING UP: It’s hard to find asphalt anywhere on the pristine grounds at Augusta National.
Brett Wetterich did.
It’s not easy hitting shots from the trampled walkways where thousands of fans trod.
Tim Clark had to.
Inexperienced in situations like this, the second-round co-leaders endured all the troubles many thought they might. They combined to go 13 over through their first 10 holes. By the time the ugly day was over, they were struggling to stay in contention.
Clark’s 8-over 80 left him in a pack at 6 over, four strokes off the lead. Wetterich shot an 83 and is 9 over.
Worst of all? Only some of their woes could be blamed on the weather.
Clark, for instance, got confused on which club to use for his long approach into the first green, maybe in part because of a swirling wind. But knocking it 15 yards past the green and into that walkway couldn’t have factored into any plan. He made bogey there.
Wetterich, meanwhile, had no one to blame but himself for the snap hook drive he hit on No. 2, landing him on a service road well left of the fairway, the rough, the trees or pretty much anything resembling a golf course.
He actually salvaged a bogey there, but came back with a 7 on the next hole that included missing a short putt, and the meltdown was on.
DIVOTS: Nobody had a bogey-free round Saturday. … Tim Clark leads the field in driving accuracy after three rounds, hitting 37 of 42 fairways (88.1 percent). Jim Furyk is best in greens in regulation, making 37 of 54 (68.52 percent). Lee Westwood has taken the fewest putts (77) while he and Stuart Appleby are tied for the most birdies at 14 each. … Trevor Immelman, tied with Sandy Lyle in last place at 16 over, made only three pars on the front nine on his way to a 43.