“That was one of those special kind of Masters moments that I’ve been watching so many times on TV,” Hanson said of Saturday’s eagle at No.13 that thrust Mickelson into a share of the lead.
Then the Swedish pro went out and created his own noise.
Hanson birdied No.14, then added three more down the stretch on the way to a 7-under-par 65 that propelled to him a one-stroke advantage over Mickelson with one round to play for a green jacket.
“It’s a new situation to me,” said Hanson, a winner of four European Tour events. “I’ve been up on the leaderboard a few times, but I’ve never led in anything like this.”
Hanson’s 65 was Augusta National’s best this week, buoyed by that back-nine 31. He completed three rounds in 9-under 207, highest by a Masters leader since the 2007 edition that was played in frigid weather.
“I’ve been watching this tournament since I was a young kid,” he said. “Seeing Freddie Couples and the guys go and shoot 30 and 31 on the back nine – it’s something you just dream about.”
Mickelson scorched his back nine in 30 strokes, finishing with a 66. Since a lost ball and triple bogey on Thursday’s 10th hole, the three-time champion has played his past 44 holes in 12-under.
“At some point on this golf course,” he said, “I was going to get hot and make some birdies and maybe an eagle here and there. But I’ve got to be in a position where it moves me up the leaderboard and not just get me to the weekend.”
Former British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen lurked two shots off the pace, though a bogey at No.18 tarnished his 69.
Bubba Watson (70) was three back and alone in fourth, a shot ahead of Matt Kuchar (70) as things sorted out on a day that began with the top 18 players separated by no more than three strokes.
Before the separation, though, eight different players found themselves with at least a share of the lead.
“You’re hearing all these roars from different sections,” Watson said. “You’re wondering who it is, wondering what’s happening, but at the same time you know it’s doable out there.”
There weren’t many roars for Tiger Woods, who carded an even-par 72 and didn’t post a birdie for his final 14 holes. He enters the final day 12 shots back and tied for 38th, looking at possibly his worst finish except for missing the 1996 cut.
“It’s certainly frustrating at times, not hitting the ball where you need to hit it,” Woods said.
Hanson keeps a U.S. base in Orlando, but took out temporary PGA Tour membership only last month after top-5 finishes in both of this spring’s World Golf Championships events.
Now, though, comes the challenge of holding his game together in the final group of a major – with fan favorite Mickelson seeking to add his fourth green jacket.
“The crowds are so much behind Phil,” said Hanson, who got a taste when he was paired with Mickelson in the first two rounds. “I’m just going to try to enjoy it. I tried to stay pretty close to him the first couple of days and feed off a little bit.”
Perhaps nobody these days thrives more on Augusta National than Mickelson, who has won three of the past eight green jackets with roar-inducing plays like the eagle at No.13 and a high flop shot from behind the 15th green that set up a birdie.
“I never [envisioned] that high flop shot from there,” Hanson said. “He has a few shots around the green that I’m not even close to.”
Said Mickelson: “I love nothing more than being in the last group on Sunday at the Masters. It’s the greatest thing in professional golf.”email@example.com. Read Jeff Shain’s blog, The Downswing, at OrlandoSentinel.com/golfblog.