Tiger Woods will start Sunday at the Masters in a four-shot hole, attempting to chase down co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. Chasing is not something Tiger has always done well at the majors, as his path to 14 wins at the game's biggest events is often routed through the 54-hole lead and then a closing 18 that keeps the competition at a distance.
The drama of late Friday evening and Saturday morning set him even further back, and dominated the third round coverage. After all that, Tiger came in with a 2-under round of 70, getting inside the top 10 with 18 holes to play. He has yet to break 70 this week, but has been steady through all three rounds to hang around on the first page of the leaderboard. But does Tiger have that super low number in him on a Sunday at a major?
More than any other major, the Masters, with Augusta National's familiar second nine, is open to a big Sunday move that gives anyone within seven shots of the leaders a chance to win. That ability to charge up the Sunday leaderboard is just one way it's unlike any other major. The common refrain is that any player within six shots of the lead on the back nine on Sunday still has a chance. It's a long shot, but it exists and the players subscribe to it.
If Woods does chase down the lead, it will be a historic round. He's 0 for 46 at the majors coming from behind. That can change on Sunday, even with the talented group ahead of him. Tiger absolutely must make birdie or better on at least three of the four par-5s. On the second nine, Nos. 13 and 15 are must-birdies, and he'll undoubtedly go eagle seeking on both holes, which is always in play.
Aside from those two back nine holes, he'll need to get a birdie on one of the two first nine par-5s, ideally at the second so he can get some momentum rolling early and post a few red numbers that make the leaders think about him. In conjunction with that, he must avoid a bogey at the first -- a hole where he has the highest aggregate score throughout his career. Tiger opened with a dart into the green and a quick birdie there on Saturday, but he'll take a par on Sunday and move on to the par-5 second. A bogey would be a huge blow, even with 17 holes left in the round.
That's the basic framework for a Tiger charge -- hammer the par-5s and avoid bogey early -- but he'll obviously have to sprinkle a few birdies in between. He'll know how to play into all these pin placements, and will go pin-seeking throughout the round. There will be holes where he plays conservatively -- No. 11, in particular -- so as to avoid a costly bogey and pick up a quality par. But aside from those few impossible pin placements, it will be an aggressive day for Tiger.
The chasedown will be tough to pull off, but the realistic number Tiger should be gunning for is 66. Tim Clark was on pace for this on Saturday until a bogey at the last. That number would get Tiger to 9-under, and the roars ahead would put the final groups on notice. It's possible to go lower, and there could be a 64 out there if eagles start rolling in on the par-5s. But Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker, as well as the group in between, are susceptible to coming back to the field, and coming in with 66 would be a career round for a 14-time major winner who's yet to come from behind on Sunday. After the drama of Saturday, it would be, to date, the greatest day in Tiger's career.