Clustered stars have long way to ascend

The Baltimore Sun

AUGUSTA, Ga. -They will meet at the first tee Sunday morning, shake hands and perhaps pretend to wish each other good luck.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, together at last, side by side as they stroll down the fairways for the final round at Augusta National.

One problem: They are not in the final group. Or the second-to-last. Or the ...

They will go off a full 60 minutes before co-leaders Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry. That should tell you just how unlikely it is that either will need to supply his jacket size to Masters officials.

Both are at 4-under-par, seven shots behind Cabrera and Perry.

"If [the leaders] shoot 2-, 3- or 4-more under par, it almost puts it out of reach," Woods said.

Almost? How's that for the power of positive thinking?

Perry, vying to become golf's oldest major winner at 48 years, 8 months, shot a 2-under 70 after leaving his birdie try on No. 18 about 2 feet short.

"I didn't have my stuff, for whatever reason," he said. "My irons weren't sharp, so I just tried to play smart golf and keep myself in position for [Sunday].

"It felt like work today. The first two days felt like I was on vacation."

Woods' first two days felt like an Internal Revenue Service audit. Only less fun.

Steam shot from his ears after he bogeyed the 18th on back-to-back days. Picture Lou Piniella after a Chicago Cub walks the opposing pitcher. On four curveballs.

After Woods drained three back-nine birdies and saved par with an 8-footer on 18, his mass of Masters followers saw something novel - his teeth.

Woods actually smiled and cracked a joke during a post-round interview.

"Well, I didn't shoot 63 or 64 today," he said. "Actually, I did. I just played a few more holes [afterward]."

When Woods finished his round, few realized he could be paired with Mickelson on Sunday.

So it was left to "Lefty" to offer a reaction.

"I think it would be fun," Mickelson said.

Then he switched over to bland: "It doesn't matter who I'm playing with. I have to shoot a low number, something in the mid-60s."

That might not be required of Jim Furyk, who is three off the lead after a sterling 68.

Or Chad Campbell, who is two back after he roller-coastered his way home Saturday.

Campbell double-bogeyed the par-3 16th after short-siding his iron shot into the right bunker.

"The only place on that hole you can't hit it," he said.

Campbell needed two to escape and pushed his 4-foot bogey putt.

He rebounded with a birdie on No. 17 but drove into the right pine straw on the home hole. After laying up, he pulled his approach into the left fringe and left his par effort short.

"I still have a great opportunity to win this golf tournament," he said.

Woods and Mickelson will need a miracle to contend, but that won't keep the patrons - and gawkers - away.

The Lefty vs. righty rivalry added another layer in December when Steve Williams, Woods' caddie, mouthed off during an event in his native New Zealand.

"I wouldn't call Mickelson a great player, 'cause I hate the [expletive]," he said.

The next day, Williams complained: "[Mickelson] pays me no respect at all and, hence, I don't pay him any respect."

And, hence, let's hope CBS' boom mikes got a good night's rest. They have a big day Sunday.

Woods and Mickelson are a fantasy pairing for golf fans. But Perry and Cabrera are determined to make them a footnote.

at a glance

Leader board

Angel Cabrera

68-68-69 - 205 Kenny Perry

68-67-70 - 205 Chad Campbell

65-70-72 - 207 Jim Furyk

66-74-68 - 208 Steve Stricker

72-69-68 - 209 Three tied at 210

TV: Chs. 13, 9, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In Sunday's editions, a caption incorrectly named the golfer pictured with Angel Cabrera at the Masters. The golfer pictured was Todd Hamilton.The Sun regrets the error.
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