Hanson makes his move
McIlroy tumbles out of contention after a 77
Last Updated: 08/04/12 7:57am
Swede Peter Hanson closed with back-to-back birdies to grab a one-shot lead over a charging Phil Mickelson after the third round of the Masters.
Hanson was round in seven-under 65 after rolling in a curling 30-footer at 17 and then a two-foot tap-in at 18.
Those were two of eight birdies on a day when his only blemish was a five at the opening hole.
Mickelson's move was if anything even more dramatic as he came home in 30 after making nine straight pars on his front nine.
Third round leaderboard
(US unless stated)
-9 P Hanson (Swe)
-8 P Mickelson
-7 L Oosthuizen (SA)
-6 B Watson
-5 M Kuchar
Click here for collated scores
The three-time former champion produced the two biggest roars of the day when he drained a 20-foot eagle putt at 13 and a 15-footer for birdie at the last.
Mickelson had four birdies and that eagle on his back nine and will be the galleries' favourite to win a fourth Green Jacket on what is shaping up to be a thrilling Sunday.
The leader told Sky Sports: "It felt great. After bogeying the first it was important I made up ground straightaway with a birdie on the second.
"Then I just tried to hang on in there - the back nine was pretty smooth.
Hanson is also looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with Mickelson on Sunday - the two played the first two rounds in the same group.
"I learnt a lot from Phil and I hope we can play together on Sunday - he's a great guy," he added. "But for now I'm just going to enjoy the moment."
Hanson is in form - he was fourth in the Cadillac Championship and second in Qatar - but his major championship record is poor; a seventh place at last year's US Open his best finish to date.
By contrast Mickelson has won four majors - three around Augusta - and in 20 visits has finished in the top ten 13 times. Quite simply, he likes it around here.
"It was a good day today," he said. "I was patient. I had some opportunities on the front nine to make birdies and they didn't quite fall but on the back nine they sure did.
"You never know when the run is going to happen. You just hope that it does and the way the back nine went it just got me in a great position for tomorrow.
"The eagle on 13 was the big one because it really did give me some momentum and it shot me up the leaderboard."
Mickelson is hoping his past experience at Augusta will stand him in good stead for the final round.
"Having played Sundays with these certain pin positions, knowing how to attack the golf course, will allow me to feel a little more comfortable.
"But it's the final round of the Masters and you are always nervous - I know I am. I think that's what makes it so much fun though because nothing is more exciting than being in the last group on a Sunday at Augusta."
But Sunday will not just be about the final pairing and there are plenty of other contenders.
Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was tied with Mickelson at eight under after making a birdie at 17, but he missed the 18th green from the middle of the fairway and a five dropped him back to seven under after a 69.
That is a shot better than American left-hander Bubba Watson who also had a 69.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington is on the fringes of contention after finishing on four under. The Dubliner picked up five birdies in his last six holes but may need something similar on Sunday if he is to win a first Green Jacket.
Lee Westwood is also on four under after a 72 but Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia played together and both struggled badly.
US Open champion McIlroy took six at the first and unlike on Thursday - when he did the same - he was unable to recover.
He dropped six shots on the front nine and although he steadied the ship after the turn, a 77 dropped McIlroy out of the running at one over.
His playing partner endured a similarly miserable day and the pair were a joint 11 over par when they both managed birdies at 12 - before laughingly embracing and leaving the green arm-in-arm. Garcia finished on one under after a 75.