Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

A historic 3rd round gives way to a Masters Sunday Unlike Any Other — with Tiger Woods in the hunt

Rabid golf fans won’t need a wakeup call Sunday morning, not with Tiger Woods hunting for his 15th major championship during a once-in-a-lifetime breakfast from Augusta.

Woods might, though.

He plans to wake up between 3:45 and 4 a.m. “to get the mind going and the body ready.”

Whoa.

A Sunday Masters Unlike Any Other follows the lowest collective scoring day in Masters history, with the field shooting 80-under par. Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay all feasted on the ideal conditions, shooting 8-under 64s.

Sunday’s action will get rolling at 6:30 a.m. CDT, with players grouped in threesomes, rather than pairs, and going off on both the first and 10th tees.

With the potential for severe weather rolling in Sunday afternoon, Augusta National officials decided to take drastic measures. Like the ban on cellphones, nothing here is done halfway.

CBS’ coverage will begin at 8 a.m., 20 minutes before the leaders tee off in potentially flag-flapping conditions.

That final group is loaded with talent and intrigue:

Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari has a two-shot lead at 13-under after saving par at 18 with a brilliant bunker blast.

A Molinari victory would be something special for the “Fluff” Cowans and Danny Noonans of the world. In 2006 at age 23, Molinari came to Augusta National to caddie for brother Edoardo, who was paired with Woods.

“He was not that much older than me, but he was the absolute idol for many of us — he was Michael Jordan,” Molinari told Golf.com.

The 29-year-old Finau calls Woods his “golfing idol … a huge inspiration.”

The first tournament he ever watched was Woods’ breakthrough event, the 1997 Masters. Although the long hitter from Salt Lake City has the proper reverence for his fellow-swooshed star, he will not be in awe Sunday.

“The way I look at it, Tiger taught us how to compete,” he said. “Meaning, you shouldn't cheer for anybody. We’re the aftermath, if you will, of the Tiger effect. The way he dominated, he was scared of nobody.”

Finau, who is of Tongan and Samoan descent, never has finished better than fifth in a major, at the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock. The early start means his nerves will not have much time to fester.

“Last year at Shinnecock felt like the longest day of my life — and I still hadn’t teed off,” he said. “But I'm going to have to play good golf no matter what time I play.”

And then there is Woods, who has not won a major since 2008.

Brooks Koepka, one shot back at 10-under, has three major victories since 2017.

Woods mixed in brilliant ball-striking with a bit of luck Saturday. He hooked his tee shot on No. 13, barking “get through!”

The ball kicked safely into the first cut, allowing him to lay up and hit a dynamite wedge from 72 yards to 6 feet. He also striped his tee shot on the par-3 16th, earning a massive roar, a birdie and a spot in the final group.

“Usually the reward for playing hard and doing all the things correctly is a nice little (Sunday) sleep-in,” Woods said. “But that's not going to be the case. It will be interesting with threesomes. And if the wind comes up like it's forecast — 15-20 miles an hour — this golf course will be testy. You’ve got to be committed to hit the proper shots.”

Woods’ body was so wrecked by a combined eight back and knee surgeries, he was an afterthought in majors as recently as two years ago. After a DUI arrest in 2017, friends merely hoped he could rebound as a functioning adult.

And yet here he is.

Asked if he’s immune to pressure, Woods said no.

“The day I don’t feel pressure,” he said, “is the day I quit. I always thought that if you care about something, you're going to feel pressure. That hasn't changed.”

tgreenstein@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

Zach Johnson makes the Masters blooper reel with a flub on No. 13: 'Oh, it was a beauty' »

He blows up balloons? Jason Day will try anything to help his bad back, and he doesn't let it slow his Masters roll »

'It is really nice to turn it off for a day': Many fans at the Masters hope the cellphone ban stays in place »

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
59°