Tiger Woods in position for fifth Masters title

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Kutilda Woods ever so slightly pumped her fists Saturday afternoon and a large smile broke from beneath her large navy blue sun bonnet.

"Yes, yes, here we go," said Tiger Woods' mother.

Her son had just rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole on his way to a 34 on the front nine of Augusta National. There's nothing like making mom proud.

Tiger Woods is one shot behind Australian Stuart Appleby heading into the final round of the 71st Masters. Woods bogeyed the final two holes on Saturday for an even-par 72. Yet, he positioned himself for a run at his fifth green jacket.

"I blew it in the end, making two careless bogeys but overall I improved my position," said Woods, who had three birdies and three bogeys on the day. "There's not a lot of guys between me and the lead."

To win his 13th major championship, Woods would need to buck a trend. He has never trailed in a major championship and gone on to victory. The 31-year-old downplayed what is considered the only hole in his remarkable career.

"I'm looking forward to the chance to win a championship," said Woods, who won the last two major championships and could be 3/4ths of the way to another Tiger Slam with a win on Sunday.

The last 16 Masters winners have come from the last group is one trend in Woods' favor. Appleby said Woods doesn't need the odds in his favor to beat anyone.

"Look, Tiger has always got an advantage," said Appleby, who is vying to become the first Australian to win the Masters. "It's obscene that he has an advantage. It's quite obvious. You don't have to say, 'Wow, look and see that writer; look he stepped out on a limb and said Tiger has an advantage.' Yeah, he has more experience than what's left of this field put together."

When Woods finished his round he was four behind Appleby. By the time night fell in Augusta, his position improved dramatically. Appleby triple-bogeyed the 17th hole, missing a couple of short putts.

"Stuff out here happens like that, that's golf, " said Appleby, who matched Woods' 34 on the front nine. "That's Augusta. It's a tough opponent."

The golf course was the only winner on Saturday. The scoring average was 77.35 which was higher than the first two rounds. It was the second highest third-round average in Masters history.

Woods started the round five shots behind second-round leaders Tim Clark and Brett Wetterich. Clark shot 8-over 80, which was three shots better than Wetterich's 83.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson posted a 1-over 73 and is suddenly only four shots off the pace.

"I don't feel like it's unrealistic," Mickelson said. "I've seen people come from seven shots back. I feel like I have to shoot in the 60s to have a chance."

Woods didn't worry about his position. He focused on grinding out pars, a new rarity at Augusta National.

"Quite frankly, I didn't even look at the leaderboard," said Woods who moved from tied for 15th to a tie for second with Englishman Justin Rose. "I was plodding along. I had enough things to worry about with wind and the greens. I think it's about one of the hardest rounds we ever had to play here."

"Normally, if you make 18 pars you lose ground around here but not (Saturday)," he added.

With comedian Will Ferrell leading the "Let's go Tiger" chants from the gallery, Woods birdied the third hole, rolling in a slippery 10-footer to start his charge to the top. After two par-saving putts on Nos. 5 and 7, he drained the delicate downhiller on No. 8 to get 2-under in blustery, cold conditions.

"They conditions were tough," Woods said. "You had to stay patient. You had to hit quality shots and get very lucky at the same time, because you can hit a good shot and you can get absolutely hosed out here. That's just the way it is. We are struggling in it together."

Woods did wobble down the stretch, with bogeys on three of the final seven holes. He bogeyed the 12th hole for the second consecutive day. But it was his first miscue in 18 holes.

He redeemed himself on the 510-yard No. 13. He perfectly placed a wedge shot approach to two feet. On the 530-yard 15th hole, Woods squandered a chance to get back to even-par for the tournament when he three-putted from 60 feet. It was Woods' first three-putt of the week.

On the 17th hole, he yanked his tee shot left and then played a wild shot that ended up in the front bunker. Woods did his best to make a bogey. And on the final hole, the 20-plus mph wind gusted and caused his 8-iron approach shot to come up short of the green.

Despite faltering down the stretch and trailing by one shot, Woods is the player everyone will be watching.

"He won't even know I'm there," Appleby joked. "I'm sure I'll know he's there. He will be the other guy."

Appleby and Woods are quite familiar with each other. They often play together at home in Orlando. Appleby said whether it's on tour or in a friendly match, Woods is basically unbeatable.

"I think you just as well look at the Tour record, that will get you enough stats there, won't it? What would you like me to say, that I have cleaned him up all of the time? I'm great on the practice range? I can beat him, I can hit it past him? No, no, and no," Appleby said drawing laughs from the media. "No, I've never had my way with him."

Just another reason for Kutilda Woods to say "yes, yes and yes."

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