We have 36 holes to go at the Masters. Will Tiger Woods make a charge? Can a 14-year-old school the old guard? Does Fred Couples have some magic left in him? Follow along with all the sights and sounds from Augusta and check out our leaderboard to track the scores.
Leaders battle back and forth
Angel Cabrera took the lead on the 10th hole with a beautiful twisting birdie putt that found the bottom of the cup. It moved him to 7-under for the tournament, one shot clear of the field. He has since dropped back to 5-under.
No one has separated themselves from the pack so far in the third round.
Jason Day and Marc Leishman — both Aussies — were in the lead at 6-under as of 5:44 p.m. ET. A host of others were all circling within a shot or two of the lead as they played the back nine.
Matt Kuchar had a 3-under day to end at 4-under for the tournament, among the top contenders.
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Tiger making late push
With the golf world debating whether he should be here or not after this morning’s controversy (see below), a blue-clad Tiger Woods has birdied three out of four holes on the back nine to get to 3-under on the tournament.
He went to bed at 3-under par last night and started Saturday just 1-under after being assessed the two-stroke penalty earlier. He played the front nine at even par — bogeying the ninth to drop back to 1-under. He is now through 17 holes.
You can follow his every move today with Golfweek.com’s Tiger Tracker.
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Masters official sheds more light on decision
CBS opened its broadcast window with a long discussion of the Tiger incident. Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Competition Committee, explained the thought process that went into only penalizing Tiger a couple of strokes rather than disqualifying him.
The rule he cited repeatedly was 33-7, which essentially gives the Competition Committee the discretion to waive a disqualification penalty if it deems it unnecessary. Ridley said that because the Committee had already ruled on Tiger’s penalty before his round ended and originally opted not to punish him, it didn’t think a disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard would be a "fair" punishment.
Tiger’s post-round interview, in which he admitted to dropping the ball in a more advantageous position, along with a phone call from a viewer is what prompted further review and the eventual two-stroke penalty.
In other words: Tiger made an illegal drop. The Committee reviewed it while he was still on the course and decided not to punish him (or to inform him of a lack of punishment). His post-round comments and the call from a viewer raised further concerns. The Committee met with Tiger. They decided to penalize him two strokes for the bad drop. Disqualification for an incorrect scorecard was not considered since the Committee hadn’t given him a head’s up on the violation prior to him signing the card.
Is Tiger getting special treatment?
"We look at every player the same," Ridley said. "Whether this had been the last player who qualified, Tiger Woods, or any other of the main players in the field, it makes no difference."
The question left from this explanation is how, if the drop was reviewed initially, did it not warrant a punishment then? The debate goes on.
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Watney, Olesen go low
Nick Watney and Thorbjorn Olesen — our favorite name of the tournament — have two of the best in-clubhouse scores of anyone so far with 4-under 68s. Watney moved to 1-under, and Olesen now sits at even par.
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Tim Clark had a heck of a front nine
Languishing at 2-over to start the day, South Africa’s Tim Clark shot 5-under with five birdies and four pars on the front nine to put himself in contention at 3-under for the tournament.
He birdied the 13th as well to move to 6-under for the day, dropped a shot on the 14th, then got it back on the 16th, then bogeyed again on the 18th to slide back to 5-under for the day, 3-under for the tournament.
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Controversy continues to simmer over Tiger
Tiger Woods will get to play the weekend, and that’s not sitting well with many in the golf community.
Golf Channel analyst Nick Faldo has called for Tiger to "do the manly thing" and quit the tournament, saying Woods displayed no intention to follow the written rules after Woods made a bad drop on the 15th hole of Friday’s second round that led to a two-stroke penalty.
Faldo, though, radically changed his tune on the CBS broadcast later Saturday, saying it he felt it was the "correct" decision now that the full timeline had been explained. Hmmm.
Golf great Greg Norman also urged for Woods to withdraw:
It is all about the player and the integrity of the game. Woods violated the rules as he played #1 carries a greater burden. WD for the game
For his part, Tiger released a series of tweets on the incident, stitched together here:
"At hole #15, I took a drop that I thought was correct and in accordance with the rules. I was unaware at that time I had violated any rules. … I didn’t know I had taken an incorrect drop prior to signing my scorecard. Subsequently, I met with the Masters Committee Saturday morning … and was advised they had reviewed the incident prior to the completion of my round. Their initial determination … was that there was no violation, but they had additional concerns based on my post-round interview. After discussing the situation … with them this morning, I was assessed a two-shot penalty. I understand and accept the penalty and respect the Committees’ decision."
The "post-round interview" refers to comments he made that indicated he knew he was dropping the ball in the incorrect spot, something that many are arguing is grounds for his disqualification.
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2012 champ has up-and-down day
Bubba Watson started Saturday all by his lonesome as one of the very last players to make the cut. He put the solitude to good use early Saturday, going birdie-birdie-birdie on his first three holes to move from 4-over to 1-over. The defending champion had moved to 4-under for the day after 10 holes.
But the 11th hole was mean to Bubba. A double bogey dropped him back to 2-over for the tournament, then he bogeyed 13 as well. Then came birdies at 15 and 16 to move him back to 1-over. He dropped another shot on 18 to end at 2-over.
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Guan, Mickelson struggle big-time
Other notables in the morning groups included Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old Chinese phenom who snuck into weekend play despite a one-stroke penalty for slow play on Friday that nearly cost him dearly, and three-time Masters champ Phil Mickelson.
Guan finished 5-over on the day, 9-over for the tournament. Mickelson double bogeyed back-to-back holes at 11 and 12 and is also ended up 5-over on the day, 8-over for the tournament. Both are near the very bottom of the leaderboard.
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Here’s a guy changing Tiger’s score
Early photos are trickling in from the third round at Augusta, including the one below of a tournament staffer physically changing Tiger’s score for the 15th hole Friday on the big board (at left). Also below are photos of Tianlang Guan in action and of Branden Grace holing out a bunker shot for eagle on the second (click on photos to enlarge:
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Tiger won’t get disqualified
The focus during play Friday was on a penalty that nearly cost 14-year-old Tianlang Guan a shot to play the weekend. By Friday night, the Internet was buzzing with speculation that Tiger Woods might be disqualified altogether.
Why? This CBSSports.com story explains the dirty details, but essentially Tiger may have misplayed the drop after his unlucky bounce into the water hazard on the 15th hole, an infraction that could theoretically have earned him the boot from the tournament.
Our Robert Lusetich confirmed Saturday morning that Masters officials reviewed the drop and decided that Woods would not be disqualified, only assessed a two-stroke penalty.
A disqualification would have been a massive turn of events, of course, and would make an already bad break — Woods’ approach on 15 was so perfect it hit the flagstick, causing the carom into the water — epically awful. Still, a potential birdie has now become, in essence, a triple bogey.
Let the debate begin about whether this is the right decision. Some of Tiger’s fellow players are already chiming in:
If you think tiger should be dq’d your not wrong, if you think 2 shot penalty is enough your not wrong. Not sure the right answer.