AUGUSTA, GA. – Entering the last round of the Masters, 13 players are tied for or within five strokes of the lead. It’s a golfing smorgasbord that includes Tiger Woods, at 3 under, and his former caddie, Steve Williams, who is looping for Adam Scott, one of three Australians, along with Jason Day and Marc Leishman, in the top five.
“It’s great for Australia,” Scott said. “We’ve never looked better going into the final round.”
A final pairing of Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera is tied at 7-under-par 209. Snedeker is the likable American grinder who has gone 27 holes without a bogey; Cabrera is the self-taught former Masters winner from Argentina who seems to play well only in majors, and has sworn off smoking on the course even though he puffed his way around Augusta National during his victory in 2009. “No more smoking,” he said through an interpreter. “On the course.”
Cabrera is 43 and Bernhard Langer, who’s at 2 under, is 55. That’s a couple of golfers who can kindly be called “experienced.” The oldest winner of the Masters was Jack Nicklaus at 46.
Nine of the top 13 haven’t won a major, including Scott, one of a host of “Next Tigers” who never justified the comparison, and Lee Westwood (2-under 214), one of several players who over the past decade have been considered the best player to never win a major.
Before most championship events, the choice of potential victors is Team A or Team B. Sunday at the Masters, a dozen players will walk into the clubhouse knowing they can win, and wondering which of a dozen competitors could ruin their day.
“It’s going to take a great round tomorrow,” Scott said. “There are so many great players right there. I know someone else is going to play well, so I’m going to need to really have a career round, and that’s what these big events do for someone. It’s a career round that makes them a champion.”
Snedeker may have the best combination of a grinder’s mentality and a star’s talent. He has been recovering from a rib injury, which he says has left him “fresh.”
“I’ve spent 32 years of my life getting ready for tomorrow,” he said. “It’s all been a learning process and I am completely, 100 percent sure that I’m ready to handle it no matter what happens tomorrow. I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t win, period.
“I’m not here to get a good finish. I’m not here to finish top-five. I’m here to win.”