By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters is full of tradition and that includes its pin placements. The 77th edition of the tournament doesn't really break from it with Sunday's locations.
What will it mean for the final round?
According to Graeme McDowell, a low score. "Looking at today's pins there is a definite 65/66 out there," he tweeted. "So you can look as far down the leaderboard as -2 perhaps."
Judge for yourself. Here's a look at the pin sheet for the final round:
Reigning FedExCup champ Brandt Snedeker is in position to win his first major. (How/Getty Images)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Brandt Snedeker, who has never won a major, and Angel Cabrera, who has won two, will enter Sunday's final round of the Masters sharing a one-stroke lead.
Cabrera was the leader going into the final round of the 2009 Masters en route to winning in a playoff. On Saturday, he shot his second consecutive 3-under 69 to finish the 54 holes at 7 under. Cabrera's only other PGA TOUR win came in the 2007 U.S. Open.
Snedeker also shot 69 as he finds himself atop a Masters leaderboard for the first time in his career. Snedeker entered the final round of the 2008 Masters in second place but shot a final-round 77 to finish tied for third.
The eventual Masters champion has come out of the final Sunday pairing 19 out of the last 22 years, with Zach Johnson (2007), Charl Schwartzel (2011) and Bubba Watson (2012) the exceptions.
The next three players behind the leaders are all Australians. Adam Scott is at 6 under after shooting a 69; he'll play with Marc Leishman, who shot an even-par 72 and is at 5 under.
Jason Day is also at 5 under after suffering bogeys in his final two holes to shoot a 73. Had Day made par on either of his last holes, he would have been paired with Scott, whom he played with two years ago at the Masters when the two Aussies finished tied for second.
No Australian has ever won the Masters, so the three Aussies hope to end that drought on Sunday.
"Three of us right there, knocking on the door tomorrow," said Scott, who has been the low Aussie five times at the Masters.
Instead, he'll play with reigning PLAYERS champion Matt Kuchar, who shot a 69 and is at 4 under.
Tiger Woods and Tim Clark are tied for seventh at 3 under. Woods shot a 70 after being assessed a two-stroke penalty prior to his round. Clark shot the low round of the day, a 5-under 67.
To win his fifth Green Jacket, Woods will have to overcome a recent trend at the Masters. Going back to 1991, the Masters champion has been ranked no lower than T2 following 54 holes.
Five big names are another shot back at 2 under: Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler and 55-year-old Bernhard Langer, the two-time Masters champ who last won here 20 years ago.
Stricker was 4 under through 17 holes but double bogeyed the 18th.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Brandt Snedeker broke par for the third straight day to get in position for what could be his first major championship.
The reigning FedExCup champion fired a bogey-free 69 on Saturday to move to the top of the Masters leaderboard at 7 under. Snedeker, who tied for third at Augusta National in 2008, parred his first 12 holes but birdied both par 5s on the back nine and then added virtual tap-in birdie at the par-3 16th to cap things off.
Snedeker won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earlier in the year, which ended a stellar run that saw him finish as the runner-up the previous two weeks and place third in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
He was sidelined by a rib injury after that win on the Monterey Peninsula, though. Snedeker returned to competition at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard only to miss the cut in his two starts prior to the Masters.
Snedeker is the only player who can overtake Tiger Woods as the FedExCup leader with a win on Sunday. He is ranked a career-high fifth in the world, as well.
Matt Kuchar fired a 69 on Saturday at Augusta National.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For the second year in a row, Matt Kuchar heads into the final round of the Masters with a chance to win his first major.
He trailed Peter Hanson by four strokes a year ago but grabbed a share of the lead -- briefly -- with an eagle at the 15th hole. After a bogey at the next hole, his second in as many days there, though, Kuchar finished two shots out of the playoff Bubba Watson won.
At 4 under thanks to Saturday's 69, Kuchar figures to be a bit closer to the top spot when the shadows set on the third round this year. He's anxious to put the lessons he's learned into play when everything is on the line.
"Last year was my first real time being in contention going late into Sunday," Kuchar said. "It's kind of what we all play golf for, having a chance at a major championship, having a chance at the Masters tournament, it's exciting. I've not quite had the feelings anywhere else that I did when I made the eagle on 15 last year and got right in contention."
Kuchar played Augusta National's all-important par 5s in 4 under on Saturday. The two on the back nine were bounce-back birdies of 2 and 6 feet while those on the front, both inside 4 feet, fueled a solid 33.
"Around this place you take what the course gives you," Kuchar said. "Here the par 5s are opportunities that you want to take advantage of and I feel great about having birdied all four. I would say that it's a good feat, because even though they are all potential birdie holes, they're all potential bogey holes or holes that you can mess up on."
With roughly an hour left in the third round, Kuchar and Nick Watney were the only two players who had shot in the 60s twice this week. Kuchar had a 75 in the second round but "cleaned things up" on Saturday, particularly his driver, and put himself in good shape for what could be a career-defining Sunday.
Kuchar may not have won a major but he has proven himself on golf's biggest stages. He beat what is annually the strongest field in golf, top-to-bottom, at last year's PLAYERS Championship and then beat the top 64 players from around the globe at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in February.
So Kuchar doesn't look to be intimidated on Sunday. He knows everything will be magnified but he's ready to see how he measures up.
"We have all hit a thousand golf shots before," Kuchar said. "They all seem to get a little bit bigger and a little bit more challenging when a tournament's on the line, but hopefully the experience from last year and the continued good play throughout the year has helped and will help tomorrow."
Tiger Woods splashes out of the bunker at the par-5 eighth on Saturday. (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If Tiger Woods is going to win a fifth Green Jacket and 15th career major championship, he will need to do something he has yet to do in his 17-year career.
Woods has never won a major coming from behind. After a 2-under 70 Saturday, he trails leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera by four strokes with 18 holes to play in the 77th Masters.
Before teeing off Saturday, however, Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty for a rules violation on the 15th hole during Friday's second round.
Woods didn't realize there might be a problem until he saw a text message from his agent, Mark Steinberg, on Saturday morning.
"I didn't know what was going on," Woods said. "He said, 'Fred (Ridley) wants to talk to you. I called up Freddie, and he explained the whole situation, says come on in and let's talk about it, so I did, and we went through the whole process from there."
Ridley, the chairman of the Masters competition committee, explained that Woods had taken an illegal drop after hitting his third shot into the water on the par 5 and would be assessed the penalty -- rather than be disqualified.
"I wasn't even really thinking," Woods said of the drop. "I was still a little ticked at what happened, and I was just trying to figure, OK, I need to take some yardage off this shot, and that's all I was thinking about was trying to make sure I took some yardage off of it, and evidently, it was pretty obvious, I didn't drop in the right spot."
Woods dropped to 1 under for the tournament after 36 holes, but he's now 3 under going into Sunday's final round.
"(The day) started off obviously different," Woods added. "Once I came to the golf course I was ready to play. I'm right there in the ballgame."
Woods opened with a birdie on the first hole Saturday but managed to play the rest of the front nine in just 1 over with two bogeys and one birdie.
He fared better on the back with three birdies -- including one on the 15th hole -- and one bogey.
Woods would have been even closer to the lead had his birdie putt at the eighth hole not circled the entire lip -- and then some -- before spinning out. "Never seen a ball do that," Woods said.
Asked if the two-stroke penalty was a fair one, he said, "Absolutely. I made a mistake."
Asked if he thought he should have taken himself out of the tournament, Woods said, "Under the rules of golf I can play. If it was done a year or two ago, whatever, I wouldn't have the opportunity to play. But the rules have changed, and under the Rules of Golf I was able to play."
Now the only question that remains is whether he can come from behind and win.
McIlroy stumbled to a 79 Saturday, which included a 42 over his final nine holes. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The circumstances were different, but the result was nearly identical for Rory McIlroy.
Two years ago, McIlroy led by four going into the final round at Augusta National and shot 80. Saturday, he trailed by four but looked every bit as lost on his way to a 79 that included two 7s on his scorecard.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," said McIlroy, searching for an answer to the riddle that Augusta National has at times been for the 23-year-old. "I feel like I played smart enough. I mean, I'm playing it the way I know the way you should play it. I'm not taking too much on, I'm not being too defensive.
"I feel like my strategy's right, it's just sometimes if your execution is just that little bit off you pay a big price for it."
That price included two bogeys and a triple bogey over a five-hole stretch in the middle of McIlroy's round after he'd briefly moved to within three strokes of the lead early on Saturday.
The latter of those came on the par-4 11th, where, from the middle of the fairway, McIlroy inexplicably tugged his approach shot left and into the tiny pond short of the green.
Things went from bad to worse on the par-5 15th when McIlroy's second shot found the front of the green only to spin back into the water. After he hitting from the drop area, McIlroy three-putted.
"The margins are very small on this course and when you get on the wrong side of some of these slopes, you can't help but get a penalty," said McIlroy, who closed in 42. "I felt like I was done in on 11 and 15, but that's the way it goes."
Just the way it did two years ago when McIlroy pulled his tee shot so far left on the 10th hole, it landed between Peak and Berckman cabins.
Of course it didn't start out so bad for McIlroy. He birdied the third hole to get to 3 under and sneaked onto the first page of the leaderboard.
But much like the rest of his season, Saturday's round was wildly inconsistent with four bogeys, a double, a triple, one birdie and a dozen pars.
For the week, he has more bogeys -- 11 -- than birdies -- 9 -- and has just 59 percent of his fairways and taken 87 putts.
"It's disappointing, especially after such a good start," said McIlroy, who arrived at Augusta National off a runner-up in San Antonio. "I was only a few off the lead going into the seventh hole today and then all of a sudden I play through seven through 11 in 5‑over par and basically my chances in the tournament are gone."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Playing in the day's penultimate group, Angel Cabrera just birdied the 10th hole at Augusta National to grab sole possession of the Masters lead at 7 under.
Cabrera, who vaulted into contention when he birdied five of his last six holes in the second round, now leads Aussies Jason Day and Marc Leishman by one stroke. Day has just made the turn after grinding out nine pars while Leishman, who is playing with Cabrera, is 1 under for the day.
Matt Kuchar, who won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in February and will defend his PLAYERS title next month, is the leader in the clubhouse at 4 under after Saturday's 69. The round was his second in the 60s this week.
Also at 4 under are Steve Stricker, who has one hole remaining, and reigning FedExCup champ Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker has made 11 pars on Saturday.
Tim Clark posted an early round of 67 to get to 3 under. Also on the course at that number are Adam Scott and Jim Furyk, who have played 11 holes, and Fred Couples, who just made the turn with Day.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rickie Fowler is 2 under with one round to play in the 77th Masters. If not for three holes, he could have been lower -- a lot lower.
It started with a double bogey on his very first hole of the week after driving into the trees and running his approach long. It continued with another nine holes later.
On Friday, Fowler yelled for his ball to go at the par-3 16th. It didn't, splashing down with Fowler eventually making triple bogey.
"You can end up in some funky spots around here," Fowler said. "It's just golf, a bad swing at the wrong time."
Take away those bad swings and Fowler is right there near the top of the leaderboard after a 2-under 70 on Saturday that included an eagle, a birdie and just one bogey.
Instead, he'll have some ground to make up.
"I played a little bit better than (Friday)," said Fowler, who came into the week off a tie for third at Bay Hill, where he played without pain medication for his ailing back for the first time since last June. "A little less stressful. "
His chances of winning his first major, however, are also a little more difficult thanks to three holes.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Having suffered a two-stroke penalty before his round, Tiger Woods is even par through the first 12 holes of Saturday's third round.
He remains 1 under for the tournament, and has neither gained nor lost any strokes off the lead, which also remains at 6 under.
Woods opened his third round with a birdie, but dropped a shot at the par-3 fourth. He birdied the seventh, bogeyed the ninth, bogeyed the 11th and has now bounced back with a birdie at the par-3 12th.