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Cabrera & Snedeker New Leaders in Masters
Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera both carded 3-under 69s to take a share of the lead at 7-under 209 through 54 holes of the Masters. The first major of the year began Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Snedeker, a 32-year-old from Nashville who won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in early February and then took a month off to heal an injured rib, opened with 12 straight pars before recording three birdies in the next four holes.
"Making no bogeys around here is a great thing for me," Snedeker said to a TV reporter. "This is a golf course that baits you into mistakes. You have to wait for the opportunities to come."
Cabrera, a native of Argentina in search of his second green jacket, had a bit messier scorecard, with six birdies and three bogeys. The 43-year-old won the 2007 U.S. Open and followed with his second major two years later at Augusta National.
Through an interpreter, the Spanish-speaking Cabrera said, "I've been working hard for this opportunity and I've got to (not waste it). It's pretty hard for anybody to win (once) . . . but to win two is special."
Adam Scott is in solo third at 210 after a 69, while right behind in a tie for fourth are two other Australians, Marc Leishman (72) and Jason Day (73).
"It was good, solid stuff," Scott told a TV reporter. "I tried to stay out of trouble all day." No Aussie has ever won a Masters, and Scott knows the importance of him or a fellow countryman coming home with a green jacket. "It's all huge - to win the Masters would be incredible for Australia."
"Three of us right there, knocking on the door tomorrow," Scott told PGA Tour.com
Scott and Leishman will play together in the final round, and Day is paired with Matt Kuchar in the third-to-last group.
Day, the 36-hole leader who began Saturday with a one-stroke lead over Fred Couples and Leishman, held the lead throughout much of the afternoon. He steadily carded all pars through 12 holes, and birdied the par-5 13th to get to 7-under. But the 25-year-old, who finished tied for second in the 2011 Masters two strokes behind winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, bogeyed the final two holes after three-putting each of the par-4s.
Kuchar is in solo sixth at 212 following a 69, and tied for seventh at 213 are South Africa's Tim Clark, who shot Saturday's low round - a 5-under 67, and Tiger Woods.
"Last year was my first real time being in contention going late into Sunday," Kuchar told PGATour.com. "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."
Woods carded a 2-under 70 that could have been even lower. After learning that he'd been assessed - though not disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard - for an improper drop on the 15th hole Friday, the top-ranked player in the world and a four-time winner at Augusta National posted five birdies and three bogeys.
On the eighth hole, Woods seemingly had a sure birdie but his two-foot putt lipped out and he settled for a par. "I've never seen that happen before," he told a TV reporter about the horseshoe-action on the missed putt. As for learning about the penalty before teeing off Saturday, he said, "It was certainly a distraction early . . . just like anything that happens, you move on. I was ready to play. I missed several opportunities. I missed a few putts here and there - it just wasn't my day.
He added that he never thought about disqualifying himself. "They called me in this morning, I got a two-stroke penalty . . . under the rules of golf I made an improper drop. I made a mistake."
Five behind the leaders are Rickie Fowler, who rebounded from a 76 Friday with a 70, Steve Stricker (71), 55-year-old Bernhard Langer (72) of Germany, England's Lee Westwood (73) and Jim Furyk (74). Langer is a two-time Masters winner, with his titles coming in 1985 and 1993.
Tied for 14th at 215 are Nick Watney (68), Bo Van Pelt (70) and two Spaniards, Sergio Garcia and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who both posted 73s.
Couples never got going Saturday, carding a 5-over 77 that listed three birdies, three bogeys a double and a triple-bogey on the par-4 17th. The 1992 Masters winner said Friday that if he won the 2013 tournament - which would make him be the oldest champion in Masters history and the oldest winner ever in a PGA Tour event - he'd retire. For that to happen the 53-year-old from Seattle needs a very low round Sunday and some luck.
Couples is tied for 18th at 216 with Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen (68), 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson (71), England's Justin Rose (75) and Jason Dufner (75).
Rory McIlroy was hopeful heading into the weekend after opening with rounds of 72 and 70. Only four shots behind Day Saturday morning, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman plummeted down the leaderboard after a 7-over 79 that included just one birdie, three bogeys, a double and a triple-bogey on the par-4 11th. It was his second-worse score at Augusta National in 17 rounds. The No. 2-ranked player in the world will likely have to wait for the U.S. Open in June to get his third Grand Slam title.
Phil Mickelson continued his problems in the first major of the season. After opening with a promising 71, the three-time Masters champion shot 76 and 77 to fall to 8-over 224.
Mickelson said he was "disappointed" in his play, saying of the Masters, "I look forward (to the tournament) more than anything." He added, "I just hit a couple of terrible shots.
"But that's kind of the way it is out here. What I love about Augusta National is when you play well you can score really well, like Nick Watney did the back nine, shot a bunch under par, and if you play the way I did you shoot quite a few over," Mickelson told PGATour.com. "That really gives the players who are playing well a chance to separate themselves and identifies the best player."
Through 54 holes, Mickelson is one stroke ahead of 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang - who's just eight months older than Mickelson's oldest daughter Amanda.
Mickelson has something to look forward to as he might play with Guan in Sunday's final round. "That would be cool," Mickelson he told PGATour.com. "I saw him earlier here last week as we were getting ready for the tournament. What a classy person he is. He's got a great game. I hope that happens."
After starting with a 73 and a 75 to make the cut of 4-over 148 right on the number, Tianlang carded a 77 to fall into 59th at 9-over 225. The teenager is guaranteed of being the Masters' low amateur as the other four didn't make the weekend cut.
Another player having a tough outing was Keegan Bradley. The 2011 PGA champion shot a 10-over 82 to drop into last place at 12-over 228.
For all the scores, visit http://www.majorschampionships.com/masters/leaderboard.html.