By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The focus headed into Saturday's third round of the Masters obviously is on the two youngsters at the top of the leaderboard -- 21-year-old tournament leader Rory McIlroy and his 23-year-old playing partner, Jason Day, who's two shots behind – as well as the looming presence of Tiger Woods, who will be in the penultimate pairing with K.J. Choi, three shots off the lead.
Lots of attention will also be paid to Lee Westwood, last year's runner-up who is five shots behind; Fred Couples, the 51-year-old who always makes noise at Augusta National; and Phil Mickelson, the defending champ who's eight shots back and needs to make a move.
That means a lot of other players – world-class players -- will start the round flying under the radar.
Here's a look at five veterans who could rise up the leaderboard while the others deal with the pressure.
GEOFF OGILVY -- The 2006 U.S. Open champ has never finished in the top 10 in five previous Masters starts, but he's only four shots off the lead. He and McIlroy are the only two players who posted rounds in the 60s in each of the first two days.
Y.E. YANG -- Like Ogilvy, he has major credentials, having won the 2009 PGA Championship. This is the second consecutive year the Korean has played well at Augusta National; he finished tied for eighth last year. He enters Saturday tied for seventh, five shots off the pace.
LUKE DONALD -- The Englishman put on a dominant performance in winning the world Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, and he quietly moved up the leaderboard on Friday with a 68, leaving him six shots behind. With a hot hand this year, he was one of the favorites coming into this week.
JIM FURYK -- The reigning FedExCup champion has struggled this year, and with a less-than-spectacular track record at Augusta National (just four top 10s in 14 previous starts), expectations were low. But like Donald, he shot 68 on Friday and is six shots back. Not sure if he keep up that pace Saturday, but do you really want to count him out?
ANGEL CABRERA -- The 2009 Masters champ starts the day seven shots off the lead. He has shot 69 in the third round in the previous two years here, and another 69 on Saturday might give him a fighting chance on Sunday.
So, who's your favorite flying-under-the-radar player going into Saturday? Is it one of the players above or somebody else on the leaderboard? Fill out the form below and let us know.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Another former Masters champ is trying to jump back into the hunt.
Angel Cabrera birdied the last two holes to slide into contention going into the weekend at 3-under 141. He followed his opening 71 with an early morning 70.
"I was very comfortable hitting good shots and not waiting for next two rounds,'' said Cabrera.
Cabrera, who beat Kenny Perry in a two-hole playoff to win in 2009, said he's comfortable on the course. It shows. He's hit 82 percent of his fairways and 72 percent of his greens so far.
"The pins were okay, were fair, and especially given the degrees early, it's soft so you can go for some flags,'' he said.
Just not all of them.
"It is a big challenge,'' he said. "It is the place and this is the tournament that everybody wants to play well in.''
It’s early in the round with only 35 players having made their way through the gauntlet that is the raucous par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, but if play there so far is any indication don’t expect to see many birdies.
So far, there have only been two birdies -- by Dean Wilson and Angel Cabrera -- on the 170-yard hole.
That said, there have also only been two bogeys. and just one double bogey, and the hole is playing to a scoring average of 3.057 (currently fifth most-difficult). The best shot there all day? Cabrera, who hit it to 1 foot, 9 inches.
Among the most intriguing groups in the first two rounds of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the Latin American trio of Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, Colombia’s Camilo Villegas and Venezuela rookie Jhonattan Vegas, the winner of the Bob Hope Classic two weeks ago.
By putting the veteran Cabrera, a two-time major winner, with two of the PGA TOUR’s brightest young stars in Villegas and Vegas, the threesome will help draw attention to the development of golfers in South America. Golf will be part of the 2016 Summer Olympics that will be held in Rio de Janeiro.
“Hopefully this is the first of many, many outlets that we can share more and enjoy together," said Cabrera during a Spanish-only conference call this week with his two playing partners. "I wish that it continue."
Added Villegas, a three-time TOUR winner: "All this shows progress. We see that there is more support, sponsors. That's what it takes to grow golf in Latin America."
Vegas’ victory was the first for a golfer from his country, and the positive impact was felt immediately.
"The victory has been very good for Venezuela, for Latin America," Vegas said. "It opens many windows, more support to continue to promote golf in our country."
Vegas said he received a congratulatory call from Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, who in the past has been critical of the building of golf courses in the country. Vegas said he is not interested in mixing politics and golf.
“I just want to give joy to the Venezuelans,” he said.
After his win, Vegas followed that with a tie for third at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open. He now leads the FedExCup standings, the first rookie to hold the No. 1 spot since the creation of the FedExCup.
“It's amazing what has been achieved and crucial to South American golf," Cabrera said. "Building this kind of enthusiasm and expectations is the best seed you can plant in Latin America to develop the sport of golf."
Vegas, though, knows that he must not get caught up in the hype of his early TOUR win.
"I must not lose focus," he said. "The important thing is to continue the pace that we have."
NEW BREED VS. ESTABLISHMENT
|This week it’s TOUR rookie Jhonattan Vegas vs. two-time major champ Angel Cabrera. Click for more details|
|Jhonattan Vegas||Just the fourth rookie since 2007 to crack the top 10 of the FedExCup standings in any week of the regular season. The last PGA TOUR rookie to crack the top 10 in the standings was Brandt Snedeker in week No. 33 of the 2007 season after he won the Wyndham Championship (moved to ninth overall).|
|Camilo Villegas||Making his sixth appearance at the Waste Management Open this week, Villegas typically gets off to a fast start. He has played four of his five career opening rounds under par (67.60).|
|Angel Cabrera||Has two wins on the PGA TOUR and both are major championships (2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters). Outside of the majors, his best finish on the PGA TOUR is a third at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship.|
Paul Casey was chatting with his playing partner, Angel Cabrera, on the Road Hole Thursday afternoon – just after one of those sporadic and sudden bursts of rain had pelted the Old Course.
“He felt it was four shots tougher this afternoon, although we’ve got no way of measuring, obviously,” Casey said.
“I actually like a little bit of wind. It was flat calm this morning when we looked out the hotel window. A little bit of wind makes you think, and you can shape some of your shots and get close to these pins.”
And that’s exactly what the Englishman did as he managed a round of 69 that he called a “good solid start.” He was mindful of Rory McIlroy’s 63, of course, calling it “tremendous,” but Casey knows a lot can happen over four days.
“You need a little bit of luck, obviously,” he said. “But you need to take advantage of that luck and you need to be able to deal with the unexpected. But I’m very happy. I played very well. I’ve been six for the last few days with a sore throat … so I’m ecstatic to be in the 60s today.” – Helen Ross
The 18th hole at Pebble Beach has seen its share of moments through the years. Well, there was a pretty good one there just a few minutes ago with Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen and Angel Cabrera all making birdie on the difficult finishing hole.
The birdies by Goosen and Cabrera were particularly big because it means they’ll be playing the weekend. Goosen was one stroke outside the current ct of 7 over when he came to the 18th, while Cabrera was just one stroke inside it at 6 over. Furyk was already well inside the cut line.
They weren’t the only ones to benefit from a late birdie, though. In the next group, Stuart Appleby just rolled one in to also make the cut. -- Brian Wacker
Nine former U.S. Open champions are competing in this year’s event, with five playing early rounds today. Here’s a look at how they finished. -- Chris Dunham Jr.
|Jim Furyk||1-over 72|
|Lucas Glover||2-over 73|
|Angel Cabrera||4-over 75|
|Retief Goosen||4-over 75|
|Geoff Ogilvy||8-over 79|