The Masters, Day 3

Except for English football, because I love hearing them use words like "insouciant" while describing a touchline pass, I never listen to announcers while watching sports; I turn the sound off and listen to music instead. The only downside is that I have to rely on the onscreen graphics for stats. The third day of the Masters, from a cloudy and gray Augusta, yielded these gems:

* The Masters champion has come from the final-day pairing 16 of the last 17 tournaments

* The last players to win The Masters after being outside the Top 10 after 36 holes was Jack Nicklaus in 1986

If the first stat holds on Sunday, then your 2008 Masters champ will be either hottie Trevor Immelman or total dork boy (he's got braces!) Brandt Snedeker. This has some writers that I've read online not happy, with them calling the leaderboard "weak" and lacking in "star power" and all that. Translation: Wah! Wah! We picked Tiger Woods to romp through all four majors and he might not even win the first one! Wah! Wah! If not for some iffy putting by Immelman, Snedeker and Paul Casey, who's currently fourth, Woods might be even further back than the six shots he currently lies.

Snedeker is lucky to be in second behind Immelman, 2 shots back at 9 under, after a horrific stretch on the group of holes (11, 12 & 13) called Amen Corner. Driving his shot in to the creek that borders the 13th hole, Snedeker shot a collective 3 over on that stretch, after having only bogeyed 2 of the first 42 holes he played. "Don't choke Brandt! I want to see you in the leaders group on Sunday!" I thought and, sure enough, he calmed down and played well the rest of the round to ensure that he and Trevor Immelman will be the last two to tee off on Sunday.

Immelman, looking fine in a lime green shirt and black sweater vest, played solidly, bogeying only one hole and losing only a stroke on the Amen Corner part of the course. Tiger Woods is really going to have to pull off something special on Sunday if he's going to win; at one point, he was so far in to the trees, it was amazing that he managed to get the ball back on the fairway.

I can easily see a bit of a Tiger backlash building if he doesn't win at least one of the majors this year. I simply am glad that he's not steamrolling through as I love the four majors, but I really love them when there's excitement in the final round and someone unknown has a chance to win. It should be interesting stuff on Sunday and I have my alarm set for 10:00 a.m. Pacific, plenty late to have a nice Sunday lie-in but still timely enough to see the final pairings tee off. --Jim Allen

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