Field closes in on Campbell at Masters
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2006 US Masters | Round Three | 09 Apr 2006
When Chad Campell walked from the last green at the completion of Friday’s second of the 2006 Masters it appeared, even that early in proceedings, as if he would have the halfway lead. He did and no doubt the prospect of leading again after day three would have been very appealing to him.
Well the good news for Chad Campbell is that he retains the lead after day three of the 2006 Masters. The bad news is that it is not a fifty four hole lead but a forty hole lead and a narrow one at that. Campbell dropped two consecutive shots before weather brought play to an early conclusion on day three and within a few short minutes of the resumption tomorrow, he might well have given up his outright lead for the first time since midway through his second round on Friday.
When the field returns to recommence their third round early on Sunday morning, South African Tim Clark has a seven foot putt at the par three 6th hole which will take him into a share of the lead with Campbell. Clark had the option of finishing out that hole as the siren had come after he had hit his tee shot, but made the decision, along with his playing partner Ernie Els, to come back tomorrow to finish that hole off.
Clark, who started with three birdies in his first five holes, has moved to five under par and faces the left to right slider to move to six under. Clark started his Master career in 1998 with a first round 80 after gaining his start through 1997 US Public Links win the previous year. At his next start five years later he finished 13th and has not bettered that in two further visits. At a time when most were considering this the course for power play, the man who ranks 175th in driving distance is providing somewhat of an exception to the rule.
Campbell was quickly out of the blocks today with a birdie at the first from 12 feet followed by a two putt birdie at the second. He had then moved to eight under and a three shot lead before a bogey at the third, after missing the green at the short par four, saw him slip back to seven under. He was at that point two ahead of Phil Mickelson who had opened with three consecutive birdies himself, the first after a brilliant shot from the fairway bunker to 9 feet at his opening hole. Campbell then dropped a shot at the tough par three fourth when he found the left hand greenside bunker and lipped out from ten feet when trying to save par.
Mickelson bogeyed the fourth, despite a brilliant bunker shot, and then the fifth when he found the trees right and could not recover from the back bunker.
The good starts that both Campbell and Mickelson had made were brought undone to some extent by a shaky finish to their brief appearance on day three when both dropped two consecutive shots as dusk fell and the sirens sounded.
At that point Campbell led by one from Clark and Rocco Mediate who had just birdied the par three fourth after an outstanding fairway wood to five feet. He had earlier birdied the par five second after a delightful pitch from short of the green to set up a six foot birdie putt.
At three under, and now just three back, were Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods. Harrington birdied the second and third holes while Woods had moved to that score courtesy of birdies at the third and eight holes and three very good par saves. Importantly Woods was through nine holes.
Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Stephen Ames, are all at two under and very much in the thick of things. Ames has recovered from a first round of 74 to be now at two under and with the form that he showed at the Players Championship not a distant memory, his progress on day four will be watched with interest.
Of the Australians, Nick O’Hern has retained his place at the top of that list despite an opening bogey today. He recovered immediately with a birdie at the second and through six holes he is at one under and in share of 12th place.
At even par amongst the Australians is Rod Pampling who birdied two of his last three holes today to get to that score. He faces the reachable par five 15th when he resumes tomorrow and with a good finish, he could put himself right back into contention to even better his marvellous debut in 2005.
So too could Mark Hensby who has produced something quite special over the last 36 holes. Such has been the turnaround from his opening round of 80 that he now finds himself at just one over for the tournament and in 23rd place. He is now seven shots from the lead and, like Pampling, a repeat of his great debut when 5th in 2006 is not the lost hope that it was on Thursday afternoon. He was in one of the few pairings to get round three completed and can sleep a little longer in the morning.
Geoff Ogilvy is at 2 over, Stuart Appleby at 3 over, Robert Allenby at 4 over and Adam Scott has again disappointed by dropping four shots in 16 holes today to be at 6 over. Appleby birdied three of his last four holes of the day before his round was called to a halt at the 15th.
The final day, weather permitting, will see the last group out in today’s third round today having to play thirty two holes and with that much golf left at the 2006 Masters Championship, it is still anybody’s guess who will visit Butler’s Cabin late on Sunday afternoon.