Saturday of any four-day golf tournament is colloquially known as Moving Day for the swings in momentum a few strokes can create. But this particular Saturday at Augusta felt like it should have been scored by a symphony -- perhaps Beethoven's Fifth, for all the high, dramatic notes.
There was Lee Westwood, building a five-shot lead with a front nine 33 and firing a 68 to take sole possession of the lead at twelve-under. There was Phil Mickelson, garnering the loudest ovations on a day full of roars by going eagle-eagle-birdie on the 13th, 14th, and 15th, only missing three straight eagles by a few feet, and rattling off a 67 to stay within a shot of Westwood. There was Tiger Woods, up and down throughout his round and vocal about the down, but getting three consecutive birdies on the same stretch Mickelson blazed, then sticking an iron to six feet on the 18th and rolling in the birdie putt to move to eight-under.
And then there was K.J. Choi, affixed to Woods' hip all week, who notched three back nine birdies to finish at eight-under and will be paired with Woods for the fourth straight day. And Fred Couples, who got an eagle on the 15th to work himself back onto the front page of the leaderboard. And there was a constellation of lesser stars composed of the talented Anthony Kim and Ian Poulter and the less-regarded Hunter Mahan and Ricky Barnes, none of them able to make a run nor to play themselves out of contention, all at either six- or five-under.
And nearly every one of those players would be sensational as a storyline alone. Westwood's win would be a breakthrough. Mickelson's would be a lift for his cancer-stricken wife and mother. Woods' would repudiate karma in some eyes and reaffirm his unfathomable talents in most. Choi's would be the second straight major win by a Korean. Couples' would be a triumph for the old folks. For anyone in the six-under shuffle to snatch the green jacket, it would take a round that would stun the golfing world.
Better yet, though, the top of this leaderboard is capable of greatness, blessed with the skills necessary to thrill a crowd. We got many glimpses of that skill applied so beautifully to Augusta National on Saturday.
Given the talent and tenacity of the golfers in contention, we may get a full day of brilliance on Sunday.â†µ
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