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Round 3: Hanson leads, but it’s tight at the top
By Dennis de Jesus Jr.
If you didn’t think Saturday’s third round was exciting, then you are either:
a) Tiger’s ultimate No. 1 fan, or b) don’t know the difference between a wedge and an iron.
Moving day at the Masters turned out to be the most compelling round of the tournament so far, with eight different players leading or holding a share of the lead at some point on Saturday. But after the dust settled on the Masters leaderboard, it is Peter Hanson’s 7-under 65 that holds the top spot at 9-under overall, while Phil Mickelson’s 6-under 66 puts him in sole second-place at 8-under for the tournament.
After a string of nine straight pars, Lefty lit up the second half of the course shooting an Augusta record-tying 30 on the back nine. Mickelson put on an absolute clinic from tee to green, which was highlighted with an eagle on the par 5 13th hole. Despite a couple of misses on the 15th and 18th holes, Mickelson scrambled flawlessly to make birdies on both holes.
On the par 5 15th, Mickelson dared to use his 64 degree wedge to attempt his infamous flop shot that landed a few feet away, a putt that he converted for birdie. Check the highlights to see if you would have the guts to go for a full swing that close to the pin with such a tight lie.
For his second shot on the par-4 18th, Mickelson was forced to execute a wide draw hook from the rough to go around the trees from the pine straw to hit the green. Not only did he execute, but it was so perfect it set up a 12-foot birdie putt that Lefty made look routine.
Mickelson will be paired in the final group with Hanson, who will have to find a way to dampen the expected roars and cheers for Phil all day Sunday. After starting with a bogey on No. 1, Hanson to settled down to shoot a 34 on the front nine and scored an exceptional 31 on the back nine, highlighted by a birdie run on four of the last five holes of his round. Hanson is looking to become the first Swedish born male golfer to win a major championship.
However, all eyes will not just be on the final pairing, as there are seven other players within five shots of the lead or better. This contingent of players within striking distance includes names such as Oosthuizen, Watson, Kuchar, Harrington, Mahan, Stenson and first round leader, Lee Westwood. History isn’t on their side though, as the eventual Masters champion has come out of the final pairing 19 out of the last 21 years. By the the end of it all, last year’s champion Charl Schwartzel will be waiting in Butler’s Cabin with a green jacket for the winner. The tradition continues.
Coverage of the final round of the 2012 Masters starts at 2 p.m. EST on CBS.
You can follow Dennis on Twitter @jugojr