Fresh, though, is a lot better than some of the mispronunciations Brandt Snedeker has endured. At a tournament site not too long ago, the second-year pro sheepishly let on that hed been called, among other things, Snotlicker. Neither third-round leader Trevor Immelman, whos at 11 under, nor Paul Casey, whos the bottom slice of the sandwich at 7 under, had similar tales to tell. But give them time.
Those who still remember Zach Johnson coming out of nowhere'actually, it was Iowa'to hold off Woods at Augusta National last year have to be wondering what the odds are of it happening again. Casey has no problem acknowledging hes one of them.
Asked about the intimidation factor of being pursued by the greatest golfer of not just this era but perhaps every other, the Englishman said, I dont think its a case of guys quaking in their boots. Its just they are not as good as he is.
Though all of them were Woods equal on Saturday, give or take a shot, one round does not a career make. The four have a combined total of six PGA Tour wins, 11 European Tour wins and zero majors. Tiger has four Masters titles among his 13 major wins, 64 on the PGA Tour and 34 in Europe.
Who is that guy in fifth place? Snedeker said. Oh, Tiger Woods, yeah, that guy. (Laughter).
Yeah, Im sure hes going to be a factor. His name is going to be on the leaderboard somewhere tomorrow. Its going to be there on the back nine. You have to realize that Trevor and all of us in front of him, if we go out there and play a good round of golf; hes going to have to play an extremely great round of golf to beat us.
I know Tiger is going to go out there and shoot 4- or 5-under tomorrow, knowing him, the way he plays. And as good as hes playing right now, he played a hell of a round today, and that does not bode well for us if we think were going to be able to shoot 1- or 2-under and win this golf tournament.
Flesch didnt start thinking of himself as prey until he arrived at the final green and waited for a rules official to sort out where Phil Mickelson, his playing partner, would drop his ball after bouncing an approach shot off the TV tower.
I figure, you know, what the heck, Im on 18, I have some time, I might as well look, Flesch said.
You cant get too caught up in it out here, but theres that Woods guy, and everybody is always looking. I was looking because I was curious like everyone else, what did Tiger shoot today? I was just trying to keep my attention off the 4-footer I had for birdie to be honest with you.
If somebody had a Coke and a pizza, Flesch added, I might have had a slice of that, too.
A slice was what Woods hit off the 18th tee for the second straight day, and while his scrambling in round three was not quite as eventful as Friday, he still had to squeeze his approach between the boughs of a few pine trees to get home and salvage a par.
Not very big, is how Woods described his escape route. Probably, I dont know, four feet across, something like that.
He signed for a 68, his best round at Augusta National since he won back in 2005. It still left him six shots behind Immelman, whose 69 could have been at least two shots higher if not for a few fortuitous blades of grass on the bank fronting the pond on No. 15. He hit a sand wedge on his third shot at the par-5, then watched with some trepidation as it spun back off the putting surface and down the steepest part of that bank toward the drink.
I just hit it so flush with so much spin and it came out on too low of a trajectory. You know, once it came back, I knew there was a chance it was going to go in the water. I must say, the South African said, I couldnt quite believe it when it stayed up.
Speaking of unbelievable, every one of the four delivered a set piece to the effect that all they had to do was worry about playing their own game, and how playing in the final round of a major was something they practiced for, dreamed about and couldnt wait to wake up and face.
But then reality intervened in the form of a question, not unlike the cold snap and 25-to-35 mph gusts of wind expected to rake Augusta National come Sunday.
In reality, someone asked Snedeker, how difficult is it to get the name Tiger Woods out of your head for tomorrow?
When I figure out how to do that, he replied, I think Ill be able to charge some guys out here and get them to pay me. If he gets off to a great start tomorrow its going to be in everybodys head. And thats something, as long as we acknowledge it and know it and try to counteract it and realize, hey, he is not going to be a factor in the next golf shot that I hit, youve got a chance of overcoming it.
But to sit here and say we are not going to be thinking about Tiger Woods tomorrow is crazy because we are, Snedeker said, just like everybody else in this room is and just like everybody else in this world is.
Were human, he said. What can we say?