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Players struggle to make par

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Posted: April 7, 2007 9:59 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    AUGUSTA – Who knew par would look so good at Augusta.
    As they have been the last three days, birdies were tough to come by Saturday at the Masters Tournament where unseasonably cold temperatures, blustery winds and dry conditions made Augusta National aggravatingly difficult for the world’s best golfers, who were glad to be anywhere near par.
    Only one player finished under par Saturday, South Africa’s Retief Goosen at 2-under 70. Current leader Stuart Appleby was 1-under through 16 before triple bogeying 17 and finishing at 2-over. Saturday was just the sixth time in Masters history and the first time since 1966 no one scored in the 60s during the third round.
    “It was like trying to land a golf ball on your driveway, but your driveway has mounds on them and they stick pins near the mounds,” said Rich Beem, who carded a respectable 3-over 75 Saturday and is 11-over after three rounds. “Sometimes you just have to giggle about it.”
    1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, who was 6-over Saturday and is 14-over for the tournament, doesn’t think anyone will be under par if the current conditions persist.
    “It’s just hard,” he said. “You almost feel lucky if you make birdies. This course is hard enough as it is. You don’t expect to play in 50 mile-an-hour winds at Augusta, but you do what you can do.”
    Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods never made a dominating run many expected him to but stayed in the hunt by finishing at even par after bogeying 17 and 18. He is 3-over for the tournament and one shot out of the lead.
    “This is one of the hardest rounds I think we’ve ever played here,” a frustrated Woods said. “If you make 18 pars, you move up the board. That’s usually not the case out here.”
    
Wetterich falls off
    Thirty-six hole co-leader Brett Wetterich fell fast Saturday, carding an 11-over 83. He is 9-over for the tournament and tied for 23rd place.
    He bogeyed the second, fourth, eighth, 12th, 14th and 18th holes and carded a disastrous triple bogey on the third and a double bogey the 10th.

No red sweater for Tiger
    Per tradition, Woods is always clad in red on tournament Sundays, but this year’s unexpected cold weather – temperatures stayed in the 40s most of the Saturday - caught him off guard. Heading into the clubhouse early Saturday evening, Woods said he didn’t pack a red sweater or jacket to wear today. Perhaps Nike will overnight something red to its marquee player.

   Player makes history    
    Three-time Masters champ Gary Player has taken 11,739 strokes in 160 rounds at Augusta National to become the all-time stokes leader, six ahead of four-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus. Player competed in his 50th Masters this week but failed to make the cut.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.
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