He tried his best to live up to my low expectations towards the end of his third round, but somehow Chad Campbell has held it together enough to remain in contention and fair play to him, when things looked ready to crumble, he kept his head and got in at nine under. His big square head. But still, do you see him putting in a thrusting challenge over the closing holes today?
He’ll have to do so because we have two players out front who could conceivably run away with it today. The huge hitting Angel Cabrera – one of the most underrated of recent major winners, has had three rounds in the 60’s to get to the final pairing alongside round two leader Kenny Perry. It’s a victory for fat men all over the world to see them two big bellies striding out together. Everyone’s been praising Mickelson for getting so trim and marvelling at his new biceps. Perry and Cabrera look like they’ve been hitting the burger van a lot harder than the gym and it’s doing them no harm.
While I’m at it can I just mention, I used to mock Phil for wearing shirts that looked like they’d come from the budget rail at Walmart. Now he’s gone for the tailored look, which put his new found triceps on display but also show that he still has a wee bit of a podgy torso, I sort of miss those shirts. They looked like the shirts they might hand out at Ford garages to the kids who wash the cars for them. He’s lost touch with his inner Ford car washer. He’s all fruit and yoga these days, stretching on the fairways like the worlds worst Madonna impersonator.
But yes, Cabrera with a three under 69 and Perry with a 70 are now the overwhelming favourites, it’s a rare thing indeed for the winner not to come out of the last group at Augusta. Perry will ge hoping to avoid any more Amen Corner wobbles though. Coming off a bogey at 11, he overhit at 12 and a horrid chip and two putts threatened a derailment of the good train Kenny’s journey to glory. But to mix my metaphors even further, he steadied the ship bravely.
Jim Furyk was looking out of it for quite a while until he got his mojo on the back nine, and put in a burst of scoring which sees him sitting in a prime position to pick up the pieces should the top two start to falter. A similar run in the final round and Furyk could be posting the score for the last group to chase. Steve Stricker has also stuck his hand up having had a quiet enough tournament over the first few days.
Ian Poulter put in an encouraging round of four under which gives him a sniff but he will need the leaders to come back in all likelihood, and maybe a repeat of his hole in on at 16 from a few years previous to mount a serious challenge. Lee Westwood is still playing well having rejuvenated his career last year and is nicely positioned on four under.
Tiger to come from behind in a major – that’ll never happen right? Probably not this time, he’s seven shots back. His moving day took a real step backwards as an errant drive and a poor bogey putt gave him a double bogey start. He did manage to get to post a 70 in the end and avoided a third consecutive bogey on 18 with the king of putt that’s deserted him most of the week. An indicative statistic is that he had the second highest number of putts of any player to make the cut. It just hasn’t clicked on the greens for him this time around. But then, if it clicks today, maybe he could just go real low and do something he’s never done before, be a successful hunter rather than prey that’s impossible to catch.
The most intersersting thing of all is the pairing he’s in, Tiger and Phil, prepare for fireworks!
What news of the Paddy Slam. Well, it doesn’t help when you’re looking to make it three majors in a row, you’ve got to play the par fives well. One of the golden rules is to try to avoid running up a nine. Always a good idea. Unfortunately on the par five second hole Padraig couldn’t keep this golden rule. Paddy slam banjaxed. (Banjaxed- an Irish term for royally screwed up). He didn’t let his head go down, and took encouragement from the record setting Anthony Kim’s run of birdies the day before – that’s positive mental attitude for you. He didn’t manage eleven though, just the four. Ah well, he’ll settle for three opens in a row come summer.