08 SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL T COMMENT -4- JIM LITKE The Associated Press Mickelson can quiet critics by winning major AUGUSTA, Ga. — This is his best chance to put the whispers to rest. Or else, it might be his last one. Phil Mickelson has more of everything than when he began his golf career — family, money, fame and game — except major championships. That meter still registers zero. At Augusta National on Saturday, Mickelson spared no effort to put himself into a position to change that. He went through enough lives to kill a cat. He zoomed up the leaderboard, crashed spectacularly several times, each time clawing his way back toward the top again. At the end of the round, he was at 11 under, trailing only Tiger Woods. Those two now go off as the Masters fmal pair today, one of those rare convergences in major championship history where the best player in the world plays alongside No. 2. But only one of them can afford to lose. "I desperately want this," Mickelson said as the late-afternoon light scattered to the far reaches of the golf course, "very much so." "I feel this provides me with the best opportunity I've been looking forward for some time to breaking through. I've been preparing not just this past year, not just the past 10 years, but since I was a kid picking up baUs at a driving range," he added. "Tomorrow is a very important day for me." Mickelson won his first pro tournament 10 years ago, while still a 20-year-old amateur and when there seemed to be no shortage of tomorrows. An NCAA championship and a U.S. Amateur followed in short order Then he started racking up wins on the PGA Tour and now has 18 in all. In between, Mickelson found a beautiful wife, had a beautiful baby daughter, and built a portfolio that will ensure his great, great-grandchildren never have to work a day in their lives. He learned to fly a plane, how to scuba-dive off the Great Barrier Reef, and even the intricacies of designing the golf clubs he wields with such great effect. But there was always one thing missing. "The way I look at it, the winner tomorrow doesn't just win a major," Mickelson said. "The history of the game is made here and I want to be part of it." How badly was evident early this week, when Mickelson arrived here with a mantra: "It's my time." He said something similar before each of the last dozen majors or so, repeating it more stridently as other young guns like Ernie Els and Justin Leonard, and even players like Steve Jones and John Daly, leapfrogged his place in line. This time, though, despite the overwhelming shadow Woods casts on every major championship, there was evidence Mickelson might be right. At the Buick Invitational 14 months ago, he stopped Woods' streak of six consecutive PGA Tour victories. Last November, he turned the trick again, halting a streak of 19 tournaments in which Woods turned a 54-hoIe lead into a victory "He's got four or five major wins," Mickelson said. "I think it's time for him to share." There is undeniable charm in the idea that Mickelson will almost certainly have to beat Woods, the toughest competitor in the game, to get the one thing he wants most. Because other than major championships, where he's a career-deflating O-for-34, everything else in life has come relatively easy to Mickelson. But the way he kept resuscitating his round Saturday showed the left-hander might finally have learned enough about toughness and patience and hard work to make use of all that natural talent. He birdied two of the first three holes, then stumbled at No. 8 by three-putting from 6 feet. No sooner did he get that back with a birdie at No. 13 than a reckless gamble at No. 14 resulted in a momentum- kiUing double bogey. Faced with a simple chip-and-run at the back of the green, Mickelson hit a spectacular flop shot instead. The ball floated over a ridge, died suddenly, and left him a 30-foot putt for par. "Would I hit the shot again?" Mickelson said. "I felt like the shot I played was not an unintelligent shot." Those kind of go-for-broke shots ruined so many other rounds that it looked as if another major had eluded Mickelson's grasp. Instead, he pounded out three workmanlike pars and turned aggressive at the last two holes. "I knew heading into 17 that I needed to birdie those to get in the last group. And I felt like that would be important because I didn't want what happened at Bay Hill to happen to me again," Mickelson said. That was two weekends ago, when Mickelson stood alongside the 18th green and Woods came to the last hole needing a birdie to win. Woods made it — and reminded Mickelson one more time of the vast gulf between potential and performance. "It means not worrying or thinking about other players," he said. "It means bringing my best game out — something that's not always easy to do." Woods' emergence pushed all those promising golfers who preceded him into the background. Champions only get so many chances to step forward and the danger is that Mickelson has used up too many of his already Par not good enough for DiMarco Bid to become first rookie to win IVIasters since 79 slowed by others' surge Key! NO. 15 By TIM DAHLBERG Tfw Associated Press AUGUSTA, Ga. — Augusta National was supposed to be drying out and playing slick, made even tougher by the pins tucked in tricky spots. Chris DiMarco thought it was the kind of a day where a lead could be nurtured by making pars in the swirling wind. He did just that Saturday in the Masters, but it wasn't enough. Not with Tiger Woods playing alongside. Not with Phil Mickelson just ahead. DiMarco's bid to become the first rookie to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 took a detour under the towering Georgia pines even though he managed to shoot an even-par 72 under the kind of pressure the 32-year-old player had never experienced. It was good enough to keep him on a leaderboard littered with big names. But it couldn't keep him from being passed by Woods and Mickelson and tied at 10 under by Mark Calcavecchia. "Of course I was nervous," DiMarco said. "I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't. I was playing with the best player in the world and we were playing in the Masters." DiMarco, who held a two-shot lead over Woods and Mickelson entering the day, played cautiously but steadily over the front nine, recovering from a tee shot into the woods that cost him a bogey on the second hole to shoot a l-under 35. Ordinarily that would have been enough on Saturday at Augusta National, where scores tend to escalate as the pin positions get tougher and a player's collar gets a bit tighter. This, however, was no ordinary Saturday. This was a day where AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) —A look at the key hole In Saturday's third round of the Masters. Hole: No. 15. Par: 5. Length: 500 yards Stroke average: 4.787 Rank: 15th. Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco came to this hole tied. When they left, Woods had a two-shot lead. Woods chipped up from behind the green for birdie, while DiMarco hit his approach over the green and couldn't get up- and-down for par. Woods was chasing his fourth straight major and Mickelson was desperately seeking his first. This was a day when unheralded Angel Cabrera shot into the lead at one point, and players like Calcavecchia, Rocco Mediate, Brad Faxon and Ernie Els all shot in the 60s to climb their way up the old fashioned white leaderboards that dot the course. And this was a day where DiMarco would lose the lead because he did not attack while others were passing him by "I played the par 5s poorly today," DiMarco said. "If you play them a couple under like you should, it's 68 and right where I need to be." Instead, he played the long holes 2 over, thanks to a drive into the azaleas on No. 2 and a wedge that flew the green on 15. He couldn't get up- and-down from behind the green and when Woods chipped up and made a short birdie putt DiMarco was out of the lead for good. DiMarco came back by hitting a 7- iron within 5 feet for a birdie on 16 that gave him some much needed confidence, but a bogey on 18 left him the same way he started the day — at 10 under for the tournament. "Chris can be proud of himself the way he played today," Woods said. The Associated Press Chris DiMarco, wlio heid a two- shot lead over Tiger Woods and Phil Miclcelson entering Saturday's play, now finds himself behind i70th after an even-par 72. Masters / Final-round showdown set FROM PAGE C1 As the sun fell on a dramatic afternoon at Augusta National, Woods stayed on the practice green with coach Butch Harmon, fine-tuning the most important part of his game for the most important 18 holes in his young but brilliant career The curtain rises todayon perhaps the most anticipated day in golf — a matchup between No. 1 and No. 2, and so much more. Mark Calcavecchia and Chris DiMarco, University of Florida alums who use a bizarre, clawlike grip on the putter, were two strokes out of the lead. Another shot back were two- time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and David Duval, who has his fourth straight chance to win the green jacket. Woods, who won the final three majors last year, starting with his record romp in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, has won four of the last five majors. "I think it's time for him to share," Mickelson said. Mickelson already has handed Woods his share of misery Just 14 months ago, he stopped Woods PGA Tour winning streak at six with a gutsy win in San Diego. In November at the Tour Championship, it was Mickelson who ended the streak of 19 tournaments in which Woods turned a 54- hole lead into a victory But he has never beaten Woods while paired with him. "I have to strive to reach a different level of play and I have to be able to attain it," Mickelson said. Woods showed how Saturday and all it took was about 20 minutes to go from a two-stroke deficit to control of the Masters. Angel Cabrera, the power hitter from Argentina, was at 12 under and seemingly in control until El Pato — The Duck — ran into a problem with water His approach rolled back into the pond on the par-515th and he took double bogey He had a 70, and was tied at 207 with Els and Duval. After Mickelson flopped on his risky flop shot over a massive hump on No. 14, he three-putted from 30 feet and also fell out of the lead. DiMarco, the Masters' rookie who withstood the pressure most of the Masters! The Associated Press Phil Micl(elson reacts to his birdie putt as the gallery celebrates on the 18th hole during third-round Masters play Saturday. Mickelson is just one shot behind leader Tiger Woods. day hit two poor pitches for bogeys and also dropped back. Woods had no such problems. After a two-putt birdie on the par-5 13th, his approach into the 14th stopped 4 feet from a birdie, and he followed that with a delicate chip behind the 15th green to within 2 feet for his third straight birdie and the lead. Unlike his romp through Augusta four years ago, when he won by a record 12 strokes. Woods wiU have a AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A brief look at the third round Saturday of the 65th Masters, played on the 6,985-yard, par-72 Augusta National Golf Ciub (all times EOT): In the lead: Tiger Woods, after a 68 that put him at 12 under, a shot ahead of Phil Mickelson. Just Behind: Mickelson, after an up- nM ^/rcfFlfX: and-down 69 that he ^ ^-^STERS finished off with a birdie on the last hole. Second-round leader Chris DiMarco and Mark Calcavecchia were another shot back. In the hunt: Ernie Els and David Duval were three shots behind at 9 under. Top two: The final pairing of Woods and Mickelson matches the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world." Tiger streak: Woods was two shots behind after a bogey on No. 12. He then made three straight birdies to take the lead. Rookie's ride: DiMarco Is trying to become the first Masters rookie since Fuzzy Zoeller In 1979 to win the tournament. Mickelson's chance: Mickelson was the one to break Woods' streak of six straight wins last year In San Diego. He also came from behind In the final round of the Tour Championship to beat him. Going low: Saturday Is usually a day where par Is difficult, it wasn't on this day with 28 players under par and the field a combined 11 under for the day. Quoteworthy: "He's got four or five major wins. I think It's time for him to share." — Phil Mickelson on Tiger Woods. Key tee times: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, 1:55 p.m. Ernie Els, David Duval, 1:35 p.m. Television: Today 3-6 p.m., CBS. host of challengers trying to stop him. "The caliber of guys atop that leaderboard is real interesting," Woods said. There were a dozen players within five shots of the lead, four of them past major championship winners, two others ranking in the top eight in the world. "Even being three or four shots behind going into the final round, you're still in there with a chance to win," said Els, who had a 68. "Tiger being Tiger, he's not going to back down. But there's a lot of talent on that leaderboard." • Singh's par streak snapped after round of 73 Defending champion's tour-best run of par or better rounds ends at 34 By EDDIE PELLS Vie Associated Press Masters notebook AUGUSTA, Ga. — Defending Masters champion Vijay Singh's streak of 34 rounds of par or better, the best on tour, ended Saturday when he shot a 1-over 73 in the third round. That seemed the least of his worries after a round that left him at 3 under for the tournament, nine strokes off the lead and virtually out of range for a repeat. "My caddie mentioned that to me," Singh said of the streak. "I'll just have to start another one tomorrow." Singh missed a number of putts from the 6- to 8-foot range. He called that "the downfall of my round." So, instead of spending the night dreaming of wearing the green jacket, he'll think about making the trip to the practice green to place it on somebody else this afternoon. "I thought 6 under was very much out there," Singh said. "It just didn't happen." Singh's last round above par came on the closing day of the Tour Championship in November. Now that his streak is over, Tiger Woods holds the longest current streak with 21 straight rounds under pan Rocco rocks Rocco Mediate earned a chance to play among the leaders today. Teeing off early in the third round, IVle- diate sliot a 66, the low round of the day, to finish at 8 under, four strokes behind Tiger Woods. It was Mediate's best score in 15 rounds in the Masters, his lowest in 93 rounds at the majors, and gave him the afternoon tee time he's never had on the final day of a major. He tees off at 1:25 p.m. with Angel Cabrera. "I've never really been close in any major," Mediate said. "It was fun today. It felt good today. Tomorrow, if I shoot a 65 or 66, who knows?" Medic alert Chris Ferry loaded up on painkillers. David Toms barely ate a thing. That was the story of two golfers and two ailments Saturday at Augusta. Perry had a twisted knee and Toms had a bout of stomach flu he caught from 3-year-old son Carter. "I have a doctor staying at the house," Toms said. "He's an anesthesiologist. He knows nothing about the stomach." Toms said he ate just a piece of toast and a banana in the 24 hours after getting sick. After a round of 71 to leave him at 1 under for the tournament, he said he felt OK. Perry twisted his knee Friday and limped through the second round. He feit better for the weekend. "It was still pretty sore," Perry said. "I could walk better, it hurt on a couple of shots." Perry shot 74 to finish at even par. Marker, marker John Harris of Minneapolis has a standing tee time at the Masters — and he's not even competing. For the second straight year, Harris played as a non-competing marker because there were an odd number of players in the field. He played with PGA runner-up Bob May in the first twosome of the day, and the two breezed through their round in about 3'72 hours. Lest anybody think Harris is just a weekend golfer, he has a heck of a resume. He's the 1993 U.S. Amateur champion, a former Walker Cup participant and, of course, a member of Augusta National. "He's a very, very good player," May said. "We haci a nice time." Harris said he couldn't comment on his round. Duval's bad bounce David Duval hit his drive on No. 14, reached down to snap his tee out of the ground and looked toward the middle of the fainway, where he expected his ball to land. He got a nasty surprise. "It looked like a tree reached out and grabbed it," Duval said. "I know baseball season has started, but c'mon." He made bogey, part of a round of 70 that left him at 9-under, three strokes behind Woods and in range for victory once again. Duval has been in the running the last three years, only to finish second, sixth and third. "I want to have a chance ...."he said, then interrupted himself quickly. "Actual ly, I don't want to have a chance. Heck, I want to win it." Langham lingers Playing in the second twosome of the day. Franklin Langham and Jonathan Kaye fell behind at No. 5 and were put on the clock for slow play the rest of the day "It left a sour taste in our mouths," Langham said. "It cost me at least two or three shots. What can you do?" In their defense, Langham and Kaye were playing behind May and Harris, the non-competing marker. They raced through their round in about 3a hours. Langham and Kaye played in 3 hours, 46 minutes, but after losing their position, they were on the clock the rest of the round. "You just can't keep up to one guy and a marker who can pick up" his ball, Langham said. Langham, who grew up near Augusta and worked as a scoreboard operator at No. 16 as a teen, shot 75. Kaye shot 74. Divots The Masters added $1 million to its total purse this year, bringing it to $5.6 million. The winner will earn $1,008,000, compared to the $828,000 Singh won in 2000.... Bernhard Langer, the 1985 and 1993 champion, shot 68 to move to 6 under. ...The pairing of Mark Calcavecchia and Chris DiMarco for Sunday's final round will unite a pair of former University of Florida players, which could make for some good times and a few Gator chomps. "He's a Gator, I'm a Gator. We'll be clawing it together all day," DiMarco said.
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