Eaglefest gives Augusta fans a reason to roar
AUGUSTA, Ga. – There is no celebration in golf that can match the fan frenzy at the Masters. The clapping, the cheering, the roars, the reactions – all these symphonic sounds seem to reverberate off the pines and accelerate like a rocketship down one fairway and then up another.
The third round of the 2010 Masters was one of those days, Augusta National Golf Club becoming a mammoth amphitheater in which deliriously noisy fans shared centerstage with the golfers themselves.
“There were roars going up all over the place,” said Phil Mickelson, who was responsible for much of the noise while going 5-under par in a three-hole stretch. “You couldn’t figure out who was doing what.”
Well, the rest of the field certainly could figure out what Mickelson was doing:
Masters (Rd. 3)
Images from Round 3 of the Masters, played April 10 at Augusta National Golf Club.
• His 8-foot putt tumbled into the cup for an eagle at 13, after he reached the green with a 195-yard 7-iron;
• A pitching wedge shot from 141 yards backed into the jar for an eagle at 14;
• An 87-yard shot grazed the edge of the cup and left an 8-inch tap-in for a birdie at 15.
As if Mickelson’s heroics were not enough, Tiger Woods birdied 13, 14 and 15 in succession and then closed with another birdie at 18. K.J. Choi birdied 12, 13 and 15 as the back nine was unusually charitable.
Mickelson finished with a 5-under 67 and trails Lee Westwood (68) by one stroke. Woods and Choi each shot 70 and are four back. Fred Couples, with a 68, is five behind.
Mickelson was quick to forecast more of the same for the final round.
“I think tomorrow is going to be another exciting day,” Mickelson said. “The pins that are left are birdie pins. There are some low rounds out there. I think it will be very possible tomorrow.”
Asked to explain the low scores (Westwood is 12 under for 54 holes, Mickelson 11 under), Lefty talked about receptive greens and warm weather. “With the warm temperatures,” he said, “the ball is just traveling a lot longer distance.”
The Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday, eh?
How about this updated analysis: The Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Saturday.
Or this one: Saturday at the Masters isn’t just Moving Day, it’s Judgment Day. For this year’s Masters competitors, the task was to shoot a low score or perish.
One who perished was Ian Poulter, tied for the 36-hole lead with Westwood. Poulter stumbled with a 74 and is now six strokes off the pace.
Anthony Kim was another victim. Kim, who was tied with Mickelson starting the day, limped home with a 73 to surrender six strokes to Lefty.
The third round had the feel of a final round from years gone by. As Mickelson erased a five-stroke deficit after 11 holes to tie Westwood through 16 holes, the echoes through the course grew progressively louder. All this clamor spoke of golf as a wonderful spectator sport.
“You know Phil. He loves this place,” said Jim Mackay, Mickelson’s caddie. “He’s got a real game plan when he comes here.”
Mackay also talked about Mickelson’s family, reflecting on the successful battle being waged by his wife, Amy, and his mother, Mary, against breast cancer. The entire family is here at the Masters.
“Phil’s very close to his family, as we all are,” Mackay said. "They haven’t been out in a number of months. I’m sure it’s awesome of him to go home at night and see the wife and kids at a tournament.”
And it was awesome for all the Masters patrons to witness Mickelson’s thrashing of par, in concert with a sackful of birdies from other contenders.
It was enough to make the fans go crazy with noise.