Augusta National saw perfect scoring conditions Saturday (rain-softened greens, no wind), allowing some to move up the scoreboard, while others moved down.
But the most impressive part of Moving Day involved two players, Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker, who stayed right where they started the day, at the top of the leaderboard.
Immelman and Snedeker survived the slopes and hills of the course, as well as the rush of golfers behind them, to remain the leaders of the Masters at the 54-hole mark.
Immelman fired an impressive 3-under 69 to post an 11-under 205 total for three rounds, while Snedeker rode a rollercoaster to a 2-under 70 and a 9-under score. Tiger Woods started the day 7 shots back, finished with a 68 for a 5-under 211 total. He is still six shots behind Immelman, but has only three other players between him and the lead.
Immelman posted his third straight round in the 60's and continued to display a consistency rarely seen at Augusta. Immelman has only 2 bogeys for his 54 holes so far. He has hit 90% of the fairways, and incredible 76% of greens in regulation. His putting stroke was shakey to begin the round Saturday, but he lasered his irons on the back nine to turn in a 33.
After his round, Woods said, "68 is the highest I could have scored today," as he had numerous birdie putts skim by the hole. He certainly fared better than Phil Mickelson, who displayed his bi-polar game today, notching three birdies, four bogies and a double.
Augusta can bring those kind of scores out of just about anyone.
Bobby Jones designed the course as a tribute to St. Andrews, with touches of his Georgia roots. Wide fairways, little or no rough, and rolling hills that offer an infinite variety of lies, that's Augusta National. As beautiful as it looks on TV, it's more impressive in person. Television cannot begin capture the color, or the steep nature of the course.
In order to win the Masters, a golfer must possess imagination - to shape the ball around corners and to deal with various downhill-sidehill, or uphill-sidehill lies. He must have discipline - to manage the vast number of risk-reward situations he will face throughout the round. He must also have a calm set of nerves to handle the lightning fast greens.
The back nine of Augusta is a match made in Heaven for TV. All the way through the back nine, players are faced with decisions on when to go for the pin or when to lay up, . Add the pressure of Sunday to it, and the contours of the holes become even more devious.
Starting at 11 today, Brandt Snedeker went bogey, bogey, bogey, birdie, birdie. Phil Mickelson had two birdies, two bogies and a double on the backside, while both Immelman and Woods had three birdies. TV loves the risk takers, and they are always on display on the back nine on Sunday.
Augusta National originally had bermuda grass greens. In 1980 they were reconstructed with bent grass, resulting in a significantly faster surface, making chipping and putting even more treacherous. Immelman was almost a victim of the speed of the green on #15 today. His 3rd shot to the green, spun back off the green and seemed destined to a watery grave, when it simply stopped mid-slope.
Immelman, a South African, who was the PGA Rookie of the Year in 2006, will be paired with Snedeker again in the final twosome on Sunday. The winner of the Masters had come from the final pairing 16 years in a row until Zach Johnson broke the streak last year. Steve Flesch, who is at 8 under, and Paul Casey, 7 under, will be the next-to-last pairing. Then it will be Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink.
Immelman shows all the signs of being capable of continuing his brilliant stretch of play tomorrow. Woods still believes that he has a chance, since there are only four golfers in front of him, none of whom have ever won a Major. The pin placements will be hideous, the wind will be swirling between 20-30 miles per hour. Last year's third round saw winds that high, and the average score soared to over 77. Add to the equation that it is Sunday at the Masters, it should be quite a show.
CBS couldn't ask for anything more.