Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Woods keeps Masters win in view

AFP , AUGUSTA, GEORGIA

Stuart Appleby of Australia watches his tee shot on the 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday during the third round of the 71st Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Appleby leads by one stroke.

PHOTO: AFP

Tiger Woods stayed firmly in sight of winning his fifth Masters title despite a bogey-bogey third-round finish on Saturday on one of the chilliest and toughest days in Masters history.

But to do so he will have to do something he has never done before -- win a major when not in the lead or tied for the lead at the end of the third round. All 12 of his previous major wins have come when he has been in front.

Starting the day tied for 15th, five strokes off joint leaders Tim Clark of South Africa and Brett Wetterich of the US, he ended it, after a par-72, one stroke behind Stuart Appleby of Australia, whose 73 gave him the lead at two-over par 218.

Sharing second place with Woods at three under was England's Justin Rose, who had a 75 with home hero Vaughn Taylor (77), Ireland's Padraig Harrington (75) and Zach Johnson of the US (76) all a further stroke back.

After three days of torture on one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, not one player was under par and the tournament had the highest score to lead after 54 holes in Masters history, effacing the even-par total after three rounds set by Jack Nicklaus and Tommy Jacobs in 1966.

Asked if he had let a good round get away with the dropped strokes at 17 and 18, Woods said: "Yep, and then some.

"I was out there plodding along all day," he said. "It was one of the hardest rounds we have played here.

"You had to stay patient, you had to hit quality shots and get very lucky at the same time," he said. "But it's not like I'm 100 back so I've got a shot at it."

Woods had predicted a battle for survival for the players who had managed to duck under the highest Masters cut in 25 years and his words were proven true.

The fast and furious greens and fairways that had sent scores spiralling on the much-lengthened Augusta National course in the first two rounds were made all the more difficult by the unseasonable 9oC temperature and a biting and troublesome north wind.

The first eight players out in the morning set the tone with no one managing to make par and the leaders fared no better as Clark and Wetterich were sent toppling from their perches within three holes.

They were not alone in their struggles as par became the height of ambition.

Appleby, bidding to become the first Australian to win the Masters, bounded into the lead with a run of three birdies from the second.

He dropped one on the seventh hole, but then a gutsy run of pars saw him go to one under until the 17th, when a wild slap off the tee resulted in what he called "a comedy of errors" and a sickening triple-bogey seven.

"Stuff like that happens," Appleby said.

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