Stuart Appleby of Australia goes into the books as the 54-hole leader, although he was more of a survivor on a surreal day of frigid temperatures, swirling breezes and a relentless course that yielded only one round below par.
One shot behind was Woods, who has played in the final group four times at the Masters, but never like this. For the first time in his 13 trips to Augusta National, he has failed to break par over any of the first three rounds. Woods had a chance until finishing bogey-bogey for a 72 that put him in the last group with Appleby.
Also one shot behind was Justin Rose, who twice missed par putts inside 4 feet over the final three holes for a 75.
Appleby was at 2-over 218, the highest score to ever lead the Masters going into the final round. And unless it pours overnight, they cut down the trees and use member tees for the final round, it seems certain this will go down as the highest-scoring Masters in history.
Retief Goosen was the only player to break par Saturday -- a 2-under 70 that took him from last place to a tie for eighth.
On a day in which the wind chill never got higher than 47 degrees, the average score was 77.35. That's the highest for the third round since 1956, and the highest of any round since the course switched to Bentgrass greens in 1981.
'That's golf. That's Augusta,' Appleby said of his triple bogey. 'It was a tough opponent. And it will be a tough opponent tomorrow. It was a real fight out there.'
Another battle figures to come from the guy playing alongside him.
Woods has never lost a major when playing in the final group, although he has always had at least a share of the lead. History is on his side, too. The winner at the Masters has come out of the final group every year since Nick Faldo won in 1990.
Woods was playing one his finest rounds in the toughest conditions until a tee shot into the trees cost him a bogey on the 17th. Then he came up well short of the 18th green when the wind tricked him.
'I hung in there as best I could,' Woods said. 'I blew it at the end and made two careless bogeys the last two holes. Overall, I've improved my position. As of right now, I'm only four back, and not a lot of guys between myself and the lead.'
His position improved dramatically over the final 90 minutes of a harrowing day at the Masters.
Jerry Kelly was at 2 over until he took double bogey from the front of the 14th green, then rinsed one in the pond short of the 15th green for another bogey. Rose got shaky with the short game, lipping out a 3 1/2 -foot par putt on the 16th, hitting a simple chip too hard from behind the 17th green and leaving himself a 4-foot putt that caught the left edge.
Vaughn Taylor, who grew up in Augusta, missed a 5-footer for par on the 16th, the start of a bogey-bogey-bogey finish.
Each mistake moved Woods closer to the top until there was no one between him and a fifth green jacket except Appleby, who is trying to become the first Australian to win one.
'He has more experience than what's left of this field put together,' Appleby said.
Indeed, of the half-dozen players behind Appleby, Woods is the only one with a major. But as crazy as the third round was -- and there's no reason to believe Sunday will be any different -- this Masters remains ripe with possibilities.
Padraig Harrington of Ireland took double bogey on the 15th and shot 75 and was at 4-over 220, along with Taylor (77) and Zach Johnson (76). Bradley Dredge of Wales was another shot back after a 76.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson is only four shots behind and tied for eighth. He finished nearly three hours ahead of the leaders with a 73 that put him at 6-over 222, finally emerged from the scoring hut and sounded like a prophet.
'I know over par is going to be the winning score,' Mickelson said.
Tied with Mickelson was a collection of major champions -- Goosen, Jim Furyk and David Toms.
It's a wonder anyone stuck around to watch the last group of the third round. Tim Clark and Brett Wetterich were forgotten figures by the end of the day with scores of 80 and 83.
Woods also finished bogey-bogey on Thursday to waste a good round, and he was even more surly on Saturday when asked on television if he had the same feelings. 'Yeah, and then some,' he replied.
But he can't complain about where he is now, with a chance to win his third consecutive major.
Springtime in Augusta meant breaking out ski caps and mittens. Then came gusts of nearly 25 mph, swirling around Amen Corner, leaving the 60 players hanging on for dear life.
Through it all, Woods played a remarkable round. He kept bogeys off his card through 11 holes that sent him soaring up the leaderboard. But it all went to waste -- or so he thought -- on the last two holes.
He drove left into the trees on the 17th and tried to carve an 8-iron around the seventh green, bending it back into play. It caught the bunker, and the best he could do was hit out to 20 feet. Woods was in good shape on the 18th until the wind switched and left him well short of the green, and he missed a 10-footer for par.
Then came his best move of the day -- leaving the course, away from any more danger.
Appleby opened strong, capping three straight birdies with a tee shot right over the flag to 10 feet on the par-3 fourth. Equally impressive was that he held it together for so long, dropping only one shot over the next 12 holes until the 17th.
There was no escape for anyone. Even Goosen's brilliant round ended with a bogey.
'We all are struggling in it together,' Woods said. 'You just have to get by.'
A dozen players failed to break 80, including U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. After an eagle on the 13th left him poised to make a move, he put two balls in the water with a wedge in hand and made 9 on the 15th, then closed with three straight bogeys for an 81.
And then there was Vijay Singh, who shot 40 on the back nine for a 79. A bogey on the final hole means he will be paired with Jeev Milka Singh, the first Singh-Singh pairing in Masters history.
As if Augusta National didn't already feel like a prison.
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