Masters Leader Day Makes Steady Start To Third Round

by
Reuters
Australia's Jason Day retained his narrow advantage at the top of the leaderboard early on the third day at the Masters on Saturday as Tiger Woods desperately tried to make up ground after almost being disqualified.

Tiger Woods

Australia's Jason Day retained his narrow advantage at the top of the leaderboard early on the third day at the Masters on Saturday as Tiger Woods desperately tried to make up ground after almost being disqualified.

Day safely parred his first four holes to remain at six-under-par, one shot ahead of his playing partner Fred Couples on a packed leaderboard.

Marc Leishman briefly joined Day at six under when he birdied the par-5 second hole at Augusta National but fell back to four-under with back-to-back bogeys.

That left him tied with his countryman Adam Scott, Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Americans Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker.

Woods was tied for 12th at two-under after tournament officials used their discretionary powers to allow him to remain in the championship.

The world number one could have been disqualified for an illegal drop in his previous round but the Masters competition committee took a lenient approach, slapping him instead with a two-shot penalty.

"I understand and accept the penalty and respect the committee's decision," Woods said in a statement before heading out to the practice range at Augusta National.

The decision not to disqualify Woods triggered an instant debate around the golfing world, with players and fans divided over whether he had got off lightly or should have withdrawn himself.

For the players on the course, it was business as usual as they tried to make up ground on what is traditionally known as moving day.

Conditions at Augusta National were ideal for low scoring on Saturday. The sun was shining brightly and there was barely any wind, allowing the backmarkers to attack the pins, which were in easier positions than the first two days.

The defending champion, American left-hander Bubba Watson, made six birdies in his round of 70, but handed back four shots with a pair of bogeys and a double to finish the day at two-over after scraping into the cut by a single stroke.

"I had to shoot a real low one tomorrow to have a chance," said Watson.

"But I will come out tomorrow and just enjoy the walk as my last day as defending champ and try to shoot a decent number."

South Africa's Tim Clark, the 2006 Masters runner-up, made the most of the perfect conditions to grab the early clubhouse lead.

Clark made seven birdies, including five in his first seven holes, to sign for a 67 and a three round total of three under.

"I don't think I'm going to be that far back to be honest," he said. "Obviously it all depends what the other guys do but it is firming up out there."