Hanson leads Mickelson by 1 at the Masters
Augusta, GA (Sports Network) - Peter Hanson of Sweden fired a spectacular, seven-under 65 on Saturday, but it gave him only a one-stroke cushion over Phil Mickelson after three rounds of the Masters.
Hanson, who birdied four of his last five holes Saturday, finished 54 holes at nine-under 207, but Mickelson, thanks to his third straight birdie at the 18th, charged up the leaderboard on the back nine.
Mickelson, a three-time winner of the green jacket, came home in 30 for a six- under 66, his lowest round at the Masters since a first-round 65 in 1996. He stands at minus-eight.
Mickelson will be in the final pairing with Hanson on Sunday and that's important. The winner of the Masters has come from the final pairing on Sunday 19 times in the last 21 years.
For Hanson, it will be the first time with the lead in a major.
"It's going to be tough," said Hanson. "It's a new situation to me. I've been up on the leaderboard a few times, but I've never led in anything like this, and we'll see what happens towards the end of the day."
For Mickelson, it's the fourth time in nine years he will be in this spot at the Masters.
"I love it here and I love nothing more than being in the last group on Sunday at the Masters," he said. "It's the greatest thing in professional golf."
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, bogeyed the last for a three-under 69. He is alone in third at seven-under 209. Bubba Watson birdied the 18th for a two-under 70 and is fourth at minus-six.
Saturday, as they say, is "Moving Day" and that was true on this Saturday.
Hanson, Mickelson and Oosthuizen certainly moved in the traditional sense - up the leaderboard.
But several players moved down the leaderboard on Saturday.
None was more surprising than Rory McIlroy.
The reigning U.S. Open champion began the third round one off the lead, but shot a five-over 77 and fell to one-over par.
The second-round co-leaders also had a tough go on Saturday.
Fred Couples, who at 52 was celebrating the 20th anniversary of his only green jacket win, and Jason Dufner both had three-over 75s and fell into a tie for 11th at two-under par.
Tiger Woods barely moved at all.
The four-time Masters champion shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and is tied for 38th at plus-three.
"I was so close to putting it together today," Woods said. "I just didn't take care of the opportunities when I had them."
In a brilliant third round, eight different players held a piece of the lead. With eight players within five shots of first heading into Sunday, Hanson will be the man to catch.
He started poorly with a bogey at one, but got one back with a birdie at two. He made birdies at seven and eight, and a five-foot birdie putt at the par- three 12th got him one off the lead.
Before Hanson grabbed a share of first, Mickelson vaulted to the top of the leaderboard.
After nine pars on the front side, Mickelson birdied 10 and 12 to creep up on the leaders. At the par-five 13th, he knocked his second to 18 feet and Mickelson poured in the left-to-right eagle putt to tie for the lead at six- under par.
Hanson joined the mix in front with a tap-in birdie at the 14th. He took sole possession of first at the par-five 15th even though his second went over the green. The Swede rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to reach seven-under par.
Hanson was matched for the lead by Oosthuizen first, then by Mickelson and Lefty did it in vintage Mickelson style. He hammered his second over the putting surface at 15, but hit a perfect flop shot that landed softly and trickled to five feet. Mickelson drained the birdie putt to tie once again for the lead.
"It wasn't the safest shot, and that's not where I want to be," said Mickelson. "I don't like to hit the lob shot a lot here. You see me putting from off the green more often than not."
But Hanson reclaimed first with some sensational play down the stretch.
He ran home a birdie putt at the 17th, then stiffed his six-iron approach from 207 yards out at the last to two feet. Hanson kicked in the little birdie putt for the 54-hole lead.
"It was just one of those rounds that turned into a great round," said Hanson.
But Mickelson closed the gap with a all-world iron shot at the last.
Mickelson drove into the first cut on the right and hit a sweeping hook that rolled to 15 feet. He canned the birdie putt to get within one and into that final pairing.
This will be the third time this week Hanson and Mickelson will play together. They were paired in the first two rounds and before that, faced each other in the singles at the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Mickelson won on that Monday almost two years ago, and Hanson is aware of who will be playing with him on Sunday.
"He would be the big-time favorite to win, so I kind of see myself still as a little bit of an underdog," admitted Hanson. "So just see what happens."
Matt Kuchar was one of the players who led on Saturday, but he settled for a two-under 70. He is fifth at five-under par.
Hunter Mahan (68), Padraig Harrington (68), Henrik Stenson (70) and first- round leader Lee Westwood (72) share sixth at four-under 212.
NOTES: Hanson has never won in the U.S., while Mickelson has four majors and 40 PGA Tour titles...Woods tied his highest score after 54 holes at the Masters.
04/07 19:48:03 ET