Phil is on the fab track again
The advantage going into today's final round belongs to Phil Mickelson, who thrilled the sun-baked crowd with some magical shots. He shot 30 on the back nine, including a birdie on the par-5 15th when he played a full flop shot with a 64-degree wedge — no one even thinks about hitting a shot like that — to 4 feet.
Mickelson wound up with 6-under 66, his best for a weekend round at the Masters (he shot 65 in the first round in 1996) and one behind leader Peter Hanson at 8-under 208. Mickelson's in the final group for the fourth time in the past nine years.
And he made his first-round 74 a distant memory. "That was a long time ago," said Mickelson, who with a win today would tie Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer with four green jackets. "I fought hard to get a couple (shots) back (Thursday), knowing I wasn't going to get them all back in the first round, that there was plenty of golf left, that I would get a hot hand at some point."
Hanson has a new view
Peter Hanson, playing in his second Masters, made four birdies over the last five holes for 7-under 65, the lowest score of the tournament, to take a one-shot lead into today's final round at 9-under 207.
The 34-year-old Swede had the lowest third-round score since Tiger Woods and Trevor Immelman shot 65 in 2005. He had never been closer than seven strokes going into final round of a major, of which he has played 19.
He said it would be a challenge sleeping with the lead. "I'll just try to enjoy spending a bit of time with the family, try to cook in and be as ready as possible for (today)," he said.
Good news for him: Nine of the past 13 winners had at least a share of lead entering Sunday. Bad news: The last two did not. And if he needs more pressure: A Swede has never won the Masters.
Moving down day
Fred Couples and Jason Dufner began the third round tied for the lead at 5 under. They walked off the course dead even again — after 75s. They fell to a tie for 11th at 2-under 214.
Couples, at 52 the oldest player atop the leaderboard going into the weekend at Augusta, bogeyed his first two holes. He played the first five holes in 4 over to go tumbling down the leaderboard,
Tiger a bit sorry
Tiger Woods played with less drama than he did the day before in shooting a third-round par 72, which had him at 3 over. But still being buzzed about was the theatrics that accompanied his 75 Friday. He was overheard screaming/cursing into microphones, he threw clubs, and he kicked his 9-iron on the 16th hole.
His boorishness received plenty of attention at Augusta National, and it prompted CBS analyst Nick Faldo to say Woods had "lost his game … and lost his mind."
Woods didn't address his behavior then, but he apologized Saturday in typical Tiger Woods style. Meaning he apologized unapologetically.
"I apologize if I offend anybody by that, but I've hit some bad shots. It's certainly frustrating at times not to hit the ball where you need to hit it," he said. "I certainly heard that people didn't like me kicking the club. But I didn't like it, either. I hit it right in the bunker. Didn't feel good on my toe, either."
The PGA Tour could fine Woods for his behavior. Whether it does likely won't be known. The tour doesn't comment on discipline. The tour has three categories of penalties: minor (fines not more than $10,000); intermediate (fines between $10,001 and $20,000); major ($20,000-plus).
Sergio and Rory, brothers in arms
Sergio Garcia asked for a hug on the 12th green, and Rory McIlroy was happy to oblige. It was a way for the two to share in — and laugh off — each other's pain during a tough day. And there was plenty of pain as both struggled through the third round.
Entering one shot behind the leaders, Spain's Garcia shot 3-over 75 and Northern Ireland's McIlroy 5-over 77 to fall out of contention. Neither broke 40 on the front side. Each's first birdie came on No. 12.
"It would have been better if it were my girlfriend, but that was the best we could get at the moment," Garcia said of the hug.
"We needed to feel a little love from someone out there," McIlroy said. "It was a nice moment in a round filled with not-too-good moments."
Garcia was 1 under for the tournament, McIlroy 1 over. Garcia hasn't broken par in the third round of the Masters since 2002; his third-round scoring average is 74.9. McIlroy had never carded worse than 74 in the third round of a major. His worst third round in any PGA Tour event was 77.
Compiled from Times wires, ESPN.com, PGATour.com and CBSSports.com.