Phil Mickelson on BBC Two:
"That's about as fun as it gets. The shot on 13 was the one that really got me going. I took a risk and I was able to make eagle. It paid off. I almost went on and made three in a row! I'm in a good spot and I'm playing as well as I have been for a long time. It's really cool but Sunday is when memories are made. When a few 15 or 20 footers fall I think there's a mid-60s round there for me.."
Sam Torrance on BBC Two:
"I don't know about the players but I'm drained just watching. Lee Westwood really handled himself well out there and put himself in the perfect position to win his first major. I think he's absolutely ready now - 100% ready."
Coverage kicks off on the red button on Sunday at 1745 BST, on BBC Two at 1845 BST. Do whatever you have to do to watch it...
You won't see many better days of golf than that, there were times when it was breathtaking, especially when Mickelson was threatening to tear the course a new hole with that eagle-eagle-birdie charge. Poulter buckled, but Westwood, built on sturdier foundations, held firm. They couldn't get rid of Tiger though - "this is only Saturday", he said with a smile after his ragged old round. If he gets his game together on Sunday, watch out world...
Westwood gives himself a chance of a par with a solid pitch at 18, while Poulter, too, gives himself every chance with a decent bunker escape. Lovely putting stroke from Westwood - par at 18, in with a 68, he leads the field by one on 12 under par. Well done Poults, he makes his six-footer for par - in with a 74, he's on six under.
Tiger Woods on BBC Two:
"I was fighting it all day. I really struggled with the pace of the greens - it was tough today. I wanted to put myself in contention and I did that. I'm only four back and a good round and you never know. I felt pretty good, I just need to clean up the round. The guys were running away from me, at one point I was seven back, but four back I'm in good shape. We've got a long way to go - it's only Saturday. I had the same opportunities to make birdies. Unfortunately I made a bunch of bogeys as well."
"This is only Saturday," says Tiger. Ominously. Just the two Englishman out on the course now as the shadows lengthen, and Poulter has squirted his approach into the trap to the right of the green. Westwood on a down slope in a fairway trap... too much sand, and it's short of the green. Not too much damage done, and maybe none...
KJ's long birdie putt runs out of steam and he's in with a two-under 70 for -8 overall, while Woods makes his short one for a round of 70 and also eight under overall. The comeback's still on... pars for Westwood and Poulter at 17, Westwood bangs his tee shot at 18 into a trap. No mistake from Poulter, he's straight down the middle.
Choi just carries the bunker at 18, but the ball dies and curls a fair distance from the pin. Classic Woods - he leaves himself a six-footer to get back to eight under par.
Kim's little chip at 18 curls past the hole, he'll have a horrible par putt coming back. Ricky Barnes is also in trouble at 18, but that's a great little recovery, a little flipper that misses by inches. Poulter at 17, and he just carries the bunker with his second. Westwood from the middle of the fairway, and he stops it dead 20 feet from the pin. Kim in with a 73, he's -5 and seven behind. Barnes in with 72, -6 and six behind.
Hunter Mahan on BBC Two:
"This is the Masters. It's special in everyone's heart. There are lots of great golfers out there but I'm excited about how I'm playing. I love playing here, it suits my game - I need a few putts to fall early and get a momentum. It's tough but a low score is possible."
Westwood leaves his lengthy birdie putt at 16 a foot short, but that's very well judged and he taps in for par. Woods misses with another makeable par putt at 17, but it would have been almost immoral to make par after that tee shot. He drops back to -7 and five off the lead. Poulter has steadied his ship, third straight par at 16. -12 Westwood -11 Mickelson -8 Choi -7 Couples, Woods -6 Mahan, Barnes, Kim, Poulter
Westwood pulls out an eight iron at 16, but he pulls it and finishes at the bottom of the green. Here's Poulter, and he does pretty much the same. That was actually Mickelson's second at 18 that found the crowd, but he's goes close with his third and should make par. Woods with a wild hook round the bend at 15 - deliberately, I should add - and he ends up right of the green. Not a bad effort from there. Here's a stat for you - only once in the last 20 years has a winner not come from the final group on Sunday. Mickelson in with a 67 for 11 under overall, and that half an hour passage of play will live long in the memory, he's golf's very own huckster.
Anthony Kim with a crackerjack second into the 17th, he'll have a birdie putt for seven under. Woods and Choi make pars at 16, but that's a shot gone for Boom Boom at 18, he finishes with a sterling 68 and seven under overall. Mickelson's lost his mojo, and he's very nearly ironed a patron out off the tee at 18 - snap hook. Westwood leaves his eagle putt a few inches left, but taps in to snatch back the outright lead on 12 under. Woods has been struggling off the tee all day, and he finds the jungle with his tee shot at 17. That might be telling - a big smile breaks out on Tiger's face, as if to say "aah well, I'm never gonna win playing like this..." That said, I don't think anyone else has written him off yet...
We've got some video footage of
Mickelson's eagle charge
, it's well worth a look. Poulter balloons his second at 15, but Freddie Couples at 18... "hook!.. take your time hook..."... he finds the sand. Mickelson three-putts the 17th to drop back to -11 - Westwood of England claims a share of the lead again. And what a second that is from Westy on 15, he'll have a 25-footer for eagle. Ballsy.
Immelman, champion in 2008, is in with an even-par 72 for -2 overall. Another birdie for Choi, he joins Woods on -8. Dear Old Tom Watson is in with a 73, he too finishes the day two under. Here's Woods on the par-three 16th - decent effort, on the flat part of the green. Mickelson now with a rollercoaster putt at 17, he's got a beast of a par putt coming back.
When Peter Alliss says he's "never seen anything like it", you know it must have been good, that boy probably played a couple of rounds with Methuselah back in the day. Westwood with a very nice long-range effort for birdie at 14, he taps in to stay -11. Poulter makes his four, they'll have chances at the par-five 15th. Woods moves to -8 with a birdie at 15. Par at 17 from Leftie, he stays 12 under, and Barnes' bendy birdie putt is just shy, he stays seven under... has the storm blown out?
Westwood really haring round the course at the moment, his caddie might want to tell him to calm down a touch. He leaks his approach right at 14, before Mahan drains a lengthy birdie putt at 18 for a round of 68 and six under overall.
Bore off Leftie - par at 16. It was like someone chucked a grenade into the leaderboard there, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. Ricky Barnes, second at last year's US Open, rolls in a six-footer for his third straight birdie at 15 - he's now -7 and five off the lead. Birdies for USPGA champion Yang at 13 and 15, back to -4 for the Korean. Woods overcooks his second into the par-five 15th, he's got a tricky chip back.
Lee in Warrington via text on 81111:
"And that's why it's the greatest tournament in golf! Some unbelievable play. I've got El Classico on the same computer screen and I've not given it a glance thanks to Leftie's antics!"
Poulter has resembled a rickety old hut since Mickelson, Couples and Choi and Co started blowing like a gale up the leaderboard. But that's a super eagle attempt from Poulter at 13, his ball just ducking right at the last second. Birdie, though, he's back to -6. Westwood, though, can only manage par.
Mickelson does indeed tap in for birdie, he's now 12 under and has the outright lead. Almost three birdies in a row for Choi, but his ball is afraid of the dark and refuses to drop, before Couples moves to five under for the day and eight under overall with a birdie at 15. Birdie for Woods at 14, he's now seven under. All well and good, but it's kid's stuff when Mickelson's knocking in eagles for fun...
Oh my giddy aunt, Mickelson's almost picked up three eagles in a row - has that ever been done, anywhere? - he parachutes one in from a great height and his ball finishes a couple of inches from the cup. The patrons get clappy, huge smile from Mickelson - old Leftie's enjoying this, he's got a tap-in for the outright lead... great passage of golf this, don't go away...
KJ Choi is still smoking away nicely, he too birdies the 13th to move to seven under. It's all happening out there - first Couples drains a monster at 15 to move to -8 and four off the lead, then Barnes makes one disappear for birdie at 14 - he's now -6 - and playing partner Kim follows him in to get to -6. Someone put a fork in me, I'm done... -11Westwood, Mickelson -8 Couples -7 Choi -6 Barnes, Kim, Woods
Massive hole this for the English pair - Westwood gets his third shot close, but it's still a shot gone, while Poulter lets two shots go. Westwood and Mickelson now five shots ahead of the field. Woods back to level for the day and six under overall with a solid birdie at 13.
Westwood in the trap to the right of the 12th... and Poulter's followed him in. Is Mickelson's hot breath making them perspire? Westwood gets a flyer out of the sand... and Poulter's done exactly the same. Hold it together boys... Tiger for eagle on 13, it's a snaking right-to-lefter from all of 35 feet... decent effort, but he's got a nasty one for birdie.
Mickelson is throwing haymakers! Eagle at 13, followed by eagle at 14! Wedge into the green, the ball grips and darts right as if on a string, and a couple of seconds later the patrons go wild. He's now 11 under, one behind Westwood, and that's the first time he's picked up two eagles in the same round ever. Here's a fact for you - Mickelson is 52 under for his career at the 13th. Poulter, distracted perhaps by the Mickelson roar, misses his par putt at 11 and drops back to seven under, Westwood holds it together for par. Ricky Barnes chips in for birdie at 13, the American is now -5. It's like someone's thrown a match into a box of fireworks, it's all going off out there.
Woods' par putt at 12 thinks about ducking out, but a hand reaches up and pulls it back in. KJ Choi drains a 25-footer to climb to -6. Couples all over the pin at 14, he's got a very makeable birdie putt - which he makes to get back to -6. Poulter's pitch and run from Larry Mize territory at 11 flies 15 foot by, before Westwood hits the flag. Two ways of looking at that - on the one hand you could say he was unlucky to go in, on the other you could say he was lucky not to fly 25 feet by.
Woods found the white stuff with his tee shot at 12 - nice second, but it dribbles by the hole and finishes six foot past. Westwood and Poulter swagger onto Amen Corner, and Poulter's second comes up short and right. Westwood nips his off the top and also pushes it right.
Here's a drinking game for all you folks watching the coverage at home - what say you have to neck a drink every time an American says "'preciate it" at the end of a BBC interview? Westwood hammers his tee shot down the middle at 11, and Poults, althought slighter of build, pulls out his big dog and follows him down. KJ at 12, and he finds the middle of the green. Mickelson rolls in his eagle putt at 13, Westwood will be able to feel his hot breath on the back of his neck. Here's Woods after his par at 11-12Westwood -9 Poulter -8 Poulter -6 Mahan -5 Couples, Kim, Woods, Choi
Shots gone for Watson on 11 and 13, he drops back to -2. Poulter for birdie at 10 - it curls it in left to right, but he'll have a nasty six-footer for par. Couples, back in his slippers today, bogeys 13 and it now -4. Westwood roars into a four-shot lead! Pin high with his approach at 10, his 15-foot birdie putt - a big breaker from left to right - drops straight in. Poulter makes his par.
The vigorous Anthony Kim has strung three pars together between 8 and 10 to remain -5, he could be a factor tomorrow. That's a doozy from Westwood, heart of the green with his second at 10. Shot gone for Barnes at 11, he's back to four under. Poulter now with his approach at 10, and he too is on safely. One of the shots of the day from Kenny Perry - he splashes out for eagle at 15, having already picked up an eagle at 13 - tell Mrs Perry to start knocking up a new cabinet, there are four new crystal goblets on their way.
Poulter gets a lucky break off the tee at 10, flirting with the branches, but his ball skirts clear. Westwood unleashes the whupass. Hunter Mahan with birdies at 12 and 13, he jumps to six under. Is the Woods flame starting to flicker? He didn't make that eight-footer coming back at 10 and drops back to five under.
Robert Karlsson of Sweden is three over for the day through 15... Garcia in with a ragged 76. Westwood, birdie putt from 15 feet at 9... it has a look but declines to take a drunken stagger right and drop. Give it a chance Poults! He leaves his effort short... Tiger with a misread at 10, and he's got a nasty eight-footer for par.
Heath Slocum, who at one point today had Augusta National by the jaffers, came home in 39 for a round of 70 - he's -1. Schwartzel of South Africa in with a 72 for +1, world number two Steve Stricker in with a 74 for +4. Social golf from Westwood and Poulter at 9, both parachuting into the guts of the green. Woods is 80 under at Augusta at the moment, 25 under on the front nine, 55 under on the back - he's all over the pin at 10. Mickelson makes a safe par at 11 to stay seven under.
lillywhite on 606:
"One of the top four is going to go on a run and shoot something like five under today given the conditions. At the moment it looks most like to be Westwood or Lefty."
Choi rolls in that short one at 9, he's out in 36 and is -6. Ricky Barnes of Scottsdale, Arizona with his second on 10, and it's a beauty, he'll have a six-footer for -6 overall.
Woods out of the needle, but he can see all of the ball and will have a clean shot out... that's a crackerjack, centre of the green, although it does spin a decent distance away from the hole. Westwood heavy-handed at 8, he'll have a tricky putt coming back for birdie. Here's KJ Choi with his second shot on 9 - sweet as a nut, a foot for birdie. Brave birdie putt for Westwood at 8, he leads by four... make that three, Poults has followed him in... -11 Westwood -8 Poulter -7 Mickelson -6 Woods
Camilo Villegas carded a 71 today for +1 overall. "He's in Alcatraz," says the BBC's Ken Brown as Mickelson balloons his approach at 10. Strength of 10 men stuff, that. Gigantic from Westwood off the tee at the par-five 8th as Tiger drains an eight-footer for birdie - Woods back to -7 and three off the lead. Not so great for Poults off the tee - one hand comes off the club as his ball careers down the left of the fairway.
Westwood with a poor putt from long-range at 7, he's left himself a 10-footer for par. Australia's Geoff Ogilvy is in with a 69 for -1 overall. Poulter back to seven under courtesy of a lengthy downhiller at 7. Screamer. Woods heavy-handed with his birdie attempt at 8, before Westwood lands his nervy 10-footer for par at 7 to stay 10 under.
Mickelson misses a very holeable birdie putt at 9, before Westwood whistles one through the trees and finds the 7th green. -10 Westwood -8 Mickelson -6 Poulter -6 Barnes -5 Couples, Kim, Woods, Choi
Woods bogeys the 7th to drop back to -5 and five off leader Westwood. Watson bends in a testy little birdie at 10, the old fella is -4. Trevor Immelman going along nicely, one under for the day three under overall. Poulter found the middle with his tee shot at 7 but has got a tricky downhill put for birdie.
Not a great birdie attempt from long range from Tiger at 7, while Couples squeezes his par putt right of the hole at 9 - he's out in 34, and is -5 overall. Shot back for Mickelson at the par-five 8th, back to two off the lead. Westwood snaps straight left off the tee at 7, he's in the jungle...
Jerry Kelly chatting to the BBC, he carded a five-under 67 and says an even lower score "is definitely out there". Ernie at 16, but he leaves his birdie putt high. Tiger leading a charmed life at the moment - he skirts with the trees off the tee on 7 before overcooking his approach and very nearly toppling into the sand. Poulter just misses with his 15-foot foot par putt at 6, he's back to -6. Playing partner Westwood rolls in his par putt to stay -10.
Many thanks Harry. I rejoin you just as Mickelson has seen an eagle putt at 8 slide no more than an inch by the hole, but he taps in for birdie and eight under overall. Shot gone for Kim at 7, he's back to -5. Westwood misses the top shelf with his tee shot at the par-three 6th, that leaves him with a monster coming back up the ridge.
Right, Dirs is back and itching to get back on so I'll say 'ta ta' for now.
Poulter rolls a tricky putt up the hill to within about six feet on the fifth. Westwood misses a birdie chance to go to 11 under but easily makes par. Woods drops a shot on the sixth and slips to six under.
Andrew in Dubai via text on 81111:
"Oh the American commentators aren't enjoying this at all. Our boys are giving their best a shoeing so far in the opening exchanges. Even more impressive given Poults is wearing a pair of wind socks on his legs!!!"
Mickelson easily rolls in to make par on the seventh. I fancy him to be in the lead at the end of this round. Thoughts? Westy would disagree I'd imagine and as if to have a dig at me the Englishman sends one to within 10 feet with an iron at the fifth. Poulter digs one out of the bunker to reach the fringe of the same green.
Thomas in St Albans via text on 81111:
"I am hoping my bets on The Masters will cover my losses on The National today... A Westy, Poults, Lefty 123 would do nicely. Wife still not given birth."
Dirs has devoured his tucker and will return in a bit by the way. Just in case you simply can't wait to have him back. A bit further down the leaderboard and Australia's Adam Scott is having a better round today, going to two under after 12 holes. But it's the top we're all concerned about and it's good news for the British fans as Westy sends the ball home from 10 feet at the fourth to move two shots clear at 10 under. Love that.
Bad news for 'Micks' with a bogey at the seventh. That takes him back down to seven under - level with Tiger. Another two birdies for Jerry Kelly take him to an impressive five under today and three under overall. That means I need two arrows.
The Woods charge stalls with a bogey at the fourth which takes Tiger back down to seven under. Westwood is still out on his own at nine under after pars on two and three. Can the man from Worksop keep this up?
Full coverage about to start on BBC2 by the way. And on the BBC website for all UK users. Get involved.
So Westy is still sitting pretty at the top, as the American commentators keep telling us on the feed. Ominous scenes though for all concerned as Woods makes birdie at the third to move back to eight under. That gives me an exciting chance to slap my first US arrow into the feed. A big moment.
Mickelson pars the fifth to stay at eight under while Poulter has made a solid start with pars at the first and second. Big Ernie rolls one in to make his par at the 13th so he stays at one over.
Not exactly looking like one for the underdogs at the moment is it? The top of the leaderboard is a 'who's who' of golf with Westwood, Mickelson, Woods and Poulter up there. My each way flutter on YE Yang is looking a bit shabby as it stands. Come on the Koreans. Oh, refresh the page if you would to make it look all nice.
Evening all. Dirs has legged it to the canteen to fill up before it all hots up later on. You've got me to endure until he gets back.
Marino just misses with his five-foot par putt at 11, back to four under, while the oldest swinger in town Tom Watson has just made bogey at 5 to drop back to -3.
Ernie lets a shot go at 12, he slides a six-footer by and is back to +1. Steve Marino's approach at 10 stops dead 10 inches from the cup, some shot that, and he'll walk off with a birdie. Slocum hasn't let that bogey at 12 take the wind out of his sails, he hits back with birdie at 13 and is back to -3. Garcia in freefall, bogey at 9, out in 40. Young Manassero's round rather unravelled, he's in with a one-over 73 after coming back in 39.
That bogey at 13 was a mere blip for Jerry Kelly - birdies at 14 and 15, he's five under for the day and -3 overall. Lee Westwood is our outright leader after a birdie at the 1st... time to have a rummage and bring out the Brit arrow... is everyone OK with that?
We have a new joint leader - Phil Mickelson birdies 2 and 3 to cosy up next to Westwood and Poulter atop the leaderboard on eight under. The two English boys must be out now...
Ernie at 11, and he leaves his big, snaking right-to-left birdie putt just high, but that's a very good effort. Just seen Couples' third at the 2nd - peach of a pitch, plenty of grip and he yo-yoed it to within a few feet of the hole. Marino's a man on fire - five under now after a birdie at 10, the Oklahoma native is five under. Kim, winner in Houston last week, birdies 2 and is back to six under...
Birdie for Woods at 1, he's now seven under and one off the lead. American duo Barnes and Kim let shots go at the 1st to both slip back to -5. USPGA champion Yang trips up at the 2nd, double bogey and back to -3...
It couldn't be more perfect for low-scoring at Augusta - not a lick of wind, receptive greens and balmy at 70 degrees. Chad Campbell's in with an eight-over 80. Here's Charl Schwartzel at 11 with a long birdie putt... it dribbles by, but the South African, a man in form on the European Tour, should knock that in to stay +1. Mickelson, birdie at 2 to move to within one of the lead... Ryan Moore, dressed for the office, very much the Rod Harrington of golf, leaves his par putt low at 11 and drops back to +2.
Trevor Immelman, the 2008 champion, is out and has made birdie at 2 - the South African is three under. Villegas misses a very makeable putt at 13, he stays +1 and with putting like that, he won't be making much of a dent this weekend. Slocum apes Cabrera's duff chip shot at 12, he'll have a putt for par from off the green... shot gone, back to -2.
Mickelson has parred the 1st to stay six under, and Boom Boom's birdied 1 and 2 - Couples back to five under, the old man in his comfortable shoes has not given up yet. Marino's four under thru eight, and four under for the tournament. There's going to be some low scoring today...
Australia's Adam Scott has made birdies at 4 and 5 and is now two under. He holed a magnificent bunker shot at the par-three 4th, you might not see a better shot all week. Defending champion Cabrera, who was right on the cut line, is in with a 69 and is level par for the tournament.
Well done to Essiential on 606
for being the first person to get himself into a lather about the arrows on the text commentary - I hope and pray your life is otherwise stress-free. Jerry Kelly careers into a wall at 13, one shot gone after birdies at 11 and 12 and he's back to -1. No-one's birdied Amen Corner yet... Hunter Mahan picks up a shot at the 2nd and is now three under.
Villegas very nearly made that big one at 12, but he taps in for bogey and is back to one over. Boom Boom's kicked off his round with a birdie, the 1992 champion creeps back up to four under. Shot gone for Slocum though at 10, back to -3 he goes.
What a tee shot that is from Stricker at 12, he's stiffed that to within a foot. We'll call that a birdie. Els has grabbed a shot back at 8, back to +1 for Big Easy. Three straight bogeys for Garcia at 4, 5 and 6, he's tumbled back to three over and can kiss goodnight to another major. Villegas in strife at 12, he is forced to play away from the hole out of a green-side bunker and will have a monster for par.
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen has just gone out with Boom Boom Couples, they'll be followed out by Mickelson and USPGA champion Yank of Korea. Geoff Ogilvy, who with his pipe-cleaner legs looks like something out of a Lowry sketch, makes par at 13 and stays one over. Shot gone for Stricker at 11, but it was a very good clutch bogey putt from eight feet.
Slocum pars the 9th, so is out in 31, one shy of the course record. Stricker finds the drink with his approach at 11, but fellow American Jerry Kelly is Shoutin' in that Amen Corner, as the old jazz record goes, with birdies at 11 and 12 to move to two under.
Slocum needs a birdie at 9 to join Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, KJ Choi and Phil Mickelson as front-nine record-holders. Jimenez rounds off Amen Corner with birdie at 13 (+1), Glover gets back to +3 with a birdie of his own.
Jerry Kelly sinks the first birdie of the day at 11 to move to one under par, and it was a biggun. Verplank misses a tiddler in contrast, he's back to two over. Ernie Els has made double at 6, back to +2 for him and there could be no coming back.
Our man at Augusta
Rob Hodgetts has been tweeting all week
: "Front nine has serene, relaxed atmosphere as crowds lounge and await the big guns this afternoon. The odd roar, but otherwise sleepy," says Hodgo. CHOO CHOO! Five birdies on the front nine for Heath Slocum, he's now four under after eight. Fellow American Steve Marino birdies 5 and 6, he's -3.
somuchsport on 606:
"Being British I won't be surprised if we lose it on the final back nine. It just seems like it's been written that Woods will make his comeback right here, right now."
Watney opens with two birdies, he's two under and six off the lead. Cute little pitch from 2006 US Open champ Ogilvy at 11, he's one under for his round. Jimenez misses with his 15-foot birdie attempt at 12, he stays +2. Villegas of Colombia is putting a nice round together - birdies at 8 and 9, he's out in 34. Birdie for Glover at 12, he's +3.
Jimenez's little spurt comes to an end - bogey at 11 for 'The Mechanic'. Lucas Glover with a pitching wedge on the par-three 12th, and he stiffs it to within a few feet. Jimenez puts his ball below the pin, both will have good birdie chances. Slocum moves to three under with birdie at 7...
Warren, the Korean Altrincham supporters club, via text on 81111:
"Every year without fail I back KJ Choi, and this year it's Choi time. I also backed his Korean counterpart Mr Yang and am loving the Koreans at the top of the leaderboard... now if you can both just hold it together...".
This music accompanying the Amen Corner coverage, it's a little bit 'cultish', don't you think? Which is ironic, considering you can't get into Augusta for love nor money. Actually... good recovery from Garcia after his double at the 1st, he picks up birdie at 2 to get back to +1. The 13th is a brute of a hole, for you or I - if you drive too close to the trees, you've got to bend it round the corner to find the green. Luckily,
we've got Ken Brown to show us how to play the draw shot
Birdie for Nick Watney, who has a good record at Augusta, at the 1st, he's back under par. Big Robert Karlsson of Sweden, Peter Alliss's pre-tournament pick, is out with 2003 champion Mike Weir, they both par the 1st.
Pickles91 on 606:
"I'm not sure about Poulter and choking, it just doesn't seem to go. The only problem I think he may have is he may look too far ahead. Westwood I doubt can keep it together mentally, we saw signs last night but he recovered from the double bogey, would have been so easy to just drop a few more. Woods clearly starts the weekend as favourite - his main threats for me would be Kim, Westwood if he keeps his game and Poulter."
Goosen now five over, he's just made bogey at 5. Everyone's favourite cigar chomper Miguel Angel Jimenez is having a good round, out in 35, the Spaniard is +2. Molinari of Italy - we've got some decent Italians coming through - is one under for his round thru four and one under for the tournament. Here's Chad Campbell with a 20-footer for birdie at 12, but it stays just low.
Manassero in for par at 11, he stays +1. Verplank's early charge is over - he runs into a brick wall at the par-three 6th and picks up a double bogey to drop back to +2. A couple of crystal goblets for the defending champion! Eagle for Cabrera at 13 courtesy of a sweet little chip from just off the green, he's now two over.
Six amateurs invited to Augusta this week, and Manassero is the last one standing. Saw him interviewed the other day, he seems like a nice kid. Els kicks off with three pars, as Allenby finds the heart of the green with his second at 13. That's gossamer stuff from Manassero, he cosies his third at the 11th, from just off the green, to within a few feet.
Former US Open champ Geoff Ogilvy birdies the par-five 8th, he's +1. Cabrera pulls out a three wood and finds the middle of the carpet at 13, as does Allenby. Here's Manassero at 11, he comes up short with his second. Huge slab of luck for Chad Campbell, who yanks his approach left, only for his ball to get snagged up in the fluffy stuff on the bank.
Here's Cabrera with a delicate little chip from behind the par-three 12th, and he fluffs it. He's got a putt from off the green for par, and it dribbles a few feet by. Allenby, who's had his troubles with the putter, misses with a 20-foot birdie attempt. Allenby in for par, he stays six over, Cabrera in for bogey, he's +4. News of Sergio - double bogey at the 1st, back to +2 for the mercurial Spaniard.
Charl Schwartzel of South Africa birdies 2 and 3 - plenty of birdie chances in the first few holes by the look of things - and he's now -1. Steve Marino, some-time first-round leader, has just ducked under par.
Another shot gone for Goosen at 4, back to +4 for him. Slocum's barrelling through the leaderboard - the 36-year-old may not be a household name, but he has three wins on the PGA Tour, the most recent The Barclays last August, where he held off a strong challenge from Els, Stricker, Harrington and Woods, so the boy's got cohones. Two under overall after four holes of his third round.
Heath Slocum picks up shots at 2 and 3 to get to one under par, alongside his Peckham-wearing fellow American Ryan Moore, who bagged a rare birdie at the 1st and another at the 2nd. Goosen recovered from his errant start with birdie at the 2nd...
If you manually refresh this page you will see our Amen Corner coverage appear at the top of this page. If you don't, you won't, it really is that simple. The fearless young Manassero picks up a shot at 9, he's out in 34 and is now one over. Cabrera still punching - birdies at 8 and 9, he's +3.
One of my bets, Camilo Villegas, has birdied the 2nd to move to +1, still in the hunt you have to say. Unheralded American Steve Flesch, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, most recently in 2007, and is also +1. News reaches me that our live coverage of Amen Corner is about to go live, earlier than expected - it will be top of this page presently.
Chad Campbell, loser in a play-off last year, has double-bogeyed the par-five 8th and is now seven over. Verplank, however, is going the other way - birdies at 4 (courtesy of a sweet tee shot, all over the pin) and 5 have moved him to level par, eight shots off the lead. Els pars the 1st.
You know what I was saying about Goosen always being dangerous when he's in the mix? Well, he's no longer in the mix - triple bogey at the treacherous par-four 1st, he goes careering down the leaderboard like a runaway elevator, back to four over par. Cabrera has nicked one back at the 8th, he's back to four over.
World number two Steve Stricker has birdied 2 and is now +1. Fellow American Lucas Glover adds bogey at 5 to his bogey at 4 and is now propping up the field on six over par, alongside Australian Nathan Green, on his Masters debut. Fellow Aussie Robert Allenby is having a real arm-wrestle with Augusta National - birdies at 2, 3 and 4, a double at 6, bogey at 7 and birdie at 9 - he's now two over par.
Angel Cabrera bogeys 7 and is now five over. It's not going to be back-to-back Green ones for the Argentine. Retief Goosen of South Africa, the former two-time US Open champion who's always dangerous when he's in the mix, has just gone out, Ernie Els, a recent back-to-back winner on the PGA Tour, is out in 15....
Wisconsin's Jerry Kelly, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, has birdied the 2nd to move to +1. Playing partner Scott Verplank, whose best finish in the Masters is tied for eighth in 2003, also birdied the 2nd to join him.
eric the mighty on 606:
"I've no idea as to whether Westwood and Poulter can continue to thrive at Augusta, but it is supremely encouraging to see both English golfers so focused and with such obvious ambition. Such a change from the years of seeing English golfers sulking, giving up or trying too hard. Both English guys look and sound like they are giving it everything, that's got to be good news."
Steve in Dubai via text on 81111:
"I agree with the comment on Westy - his performance over four days to win the Race to Dubai was sensational. He certainly has the mental game but it will be interesting to see how he would fair if paired with Tiger on the final day..."
Fletch may already have told you this, but I've been keeping an eye on the National/Heineken Cup/premiership dogfight - streaming of Amen Corner and holes 15 and 16 starts at 1845 BST, and TV coverage begins at 2030 BST on BBC Two. US Open champion Lucas Glover made bogey at the par-five 2nd, he's back to +4. Defending champ Cabrera is +4 after five.
Many thanks, Fletch. Ben Dirs here, and I'd like to kick off by saying I absolutely love the Scots, and Woosie, and I used to go out with someone from Belfast (and our split was amicable). Out on course, I note Australian stalwart Robert Allenby is shifting through the gears - three under after five, birdies at 2, 3 and 4, he's now level for the tournament.
The par three fourth had not been the kindest hole to Matteo Manassero over the opening two rounds but he has just birdied it. And with that I'm handing over to Ben Dirs, who will hopefully repair Anglo-Scot, Welsh and Northern Irish relations. Enjoy the rest of the tournament.
Lee Westwood's friend, in Dubai, via text on 81111:
"Pickles 91's comment about Westy is just way off...'Westwood does not have it mentally'. I can tell you first hand that Lee has been preparing for a major harder than anyone out there the past 24 months. From the day he hired his trainer Steve MacGregor, Westy has become more focused, fit, disciplined and probably most important; believes he can win every time he goes out; last year was a breakout season...so just stay tuned."
Robert Allenby's fine start to his third round continues with a birdie at the par three 4th. He is -3 for his round and is now even for the tournament.
Others out on the course at the moment include Yuta Ikeda, Nathan Green, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy and Jason Dufner. Lovely sunny day it is too.
I have just seen Ben Dirs enter the room, I suspect he will be taking over on the live text very soon. Who is expecting Tiger Woods to make a big charge this weekend and win on his return to the game?
Robert Allenby off to a cracking start, with two birdies in his opening three holes. That moves him to +1.
Just to clarify, Paul Lawrie is Scottish and I want that fact clearly acknowledged. I would hate it if anybody thought I believed otherwise.
A bogey for Chad Campbell at the first. No such problems for 16-year-old Italian amateur Matteo Manassero. When I think back to what I was doing as a 16-year-old........... poor.
Pickles 91 on 606:
"I have a feeling Westwood and Poulter will fall of the pace big time. Westwood doesn't have it mentally, whereas Poulter may just get ahead of himself. Hopefully I'm wrong."
Robert Allenby has birdied the par five 3rd. Defending champion Angel Cabrera has had to settle for par.
First up, an apology. Northern Ireland is not part of Britain, but part of the United Kingdom - or so, I'm told. My error. However, in reply to the text below, the reason why I was focusing on the last English winner - and not Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish - was because the two men at the top of the leaderboard are English - and not Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish. Clear?
Anonymous via text on 81111:
(See 1546) "So if your going to mention the last English winner why not the last Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish. Think you've missed the point. Clear?"
TIGERBESTATHLETE on 606:
"No disrespect to Poulter and Westwood, but could you please go away. We all want to see Tiger and Phil on the last day (except for Brits) and those two could ruin a momentous occasion in golf! That's what I'm hoping for anyway. I think scoring will be similar to Friday with the leaders having the worst of conditions. Lead will be -9."
Angel Cabrera has parred the 1st, for the third time this week. Robert Allenby likewise.
And if that doesn't float your boat then there is always the football to consider, what with an FA Cup semi-final, Premier League action and all kinds of stuff to be decided in the Football League. Stevo is
your man for that.
"What is the state of play?" I hear you ask. I'll tell you what it is, it is my tip for the Grand National, which starts at 1615 BST. Oliver Brett is all over
our live coverage
of that event.
I'm rubbish at golf, pathetic, but it has never taken me as long to complete a round as it has some of the fellas on display at Augusta this week. The six-hour round? A joke. I watched Matt Kuchar the other day for about 15 minutes and did not see him take a single shot. He was just messing about looking at his lie. Get on with it man.
(See 1515) Now then anonymous, cannot help but think that you have missed the point. It does not matter if Lawrie is Welsh, Scottish or from Northern Ireland given that he is the answer to the question of the last British major winner. Faldo had to be specified as English because he is the answer to the question of the last Englishman to win a major. Clear?
Anonymous via text on 81111:
"If Faldo can be referred to as English, why Lawrie not as Scottish? Always the same."
Good luck Scott. And do keep your phone
scott_in_america on 606:
"I have a 1.39 tee off time in a US College tournament in Daytona Beach...looks like I'll miss all the action! Mobile fones are not allowed to be used on the course...that rule will not be getting followed! Come on Poults (the best dressed golfer)!!
A reminder that we will be streaming coverage of Amen Corner from 1845 BST. Yesterday, my colleague Ben Dirs was asked to explain what Amen Corner consists of - it's the second shot at the 11th (unless you've made a right old balls up off the tee), all of the 12th, and the tee shot at the 13th.
has some stuff on the origin of the name - but do make sure to double check your facts...
As for Poulter, his best finish at August came in 2007 when he tied 13th. Incidentally, Poulter's only PGA Tour win came in February of this year when he defeated Paul Casey in the final of the WGC Match Play Championship. But my question is - if Poulter does win this year's Masters will he be the most stylish champion of all? I'm sure he would like to think so.
Westwood is two weeks short of his 37th birthday. Victory for the 2009 European Tour Order of Merit winner would surely be the sweetest present imaginable. The Worksop lad, whose best finish at Augusta is tied sixth in 1999, is
certainly sounding pretty confident
of carrying his form through the weekend.
Perhaps worth bearing in mind that as overnight leaders Westwood and Poulter do not take to the course until 1945 BST. First out are defending champion Angel Cabrera and Robert Allenby, who are scheduled to tee off at 1545 BST.
So, we reach the business end of the weekend - and two brave British boys are very much in the hunt, with Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter the overnight leaders on -8. It is surely time to reel out some tired old facts about majors and winners from the European side of the big pond. The last European winner was Padraig Harrington, who won the USPGA in 2008. The last British winner was Paul Lawrie, who won the Open in 1999 and the last English winner was Nick Faldo, who triumphed in the Masters in 1996.