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Third round's the charm for Goosen

Sunday, April 08, 2007

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Consider it this year's version of an Arnold Palmer charge at Augusta National Golf Club.

Retief Goosen places his ball on the No. 2 green during the third round. Goosen bogeyed the hole. In his ninth Masters appearance, the South African has made 13 bogeys, one double bogey and nine birdies. He begins the final round today at 6-over-par 222. (Michael Holahan/Staff)

With the toll that the firm-and-fast course conditions have taken on the world's best golfers over the first two days, Retief Goosen's 2-under-par 70 was the envy of many who teed off under Saturday's cool and blustery conditions.

It was even enough to put him on the fringe of contention.

"Yeah, I think I'd move up a few spots," he said stoically after his round.

Goosen did charge, or rather, stroll up the leaderboard. He started his round tied for 46th after making the cut on the number at 8-over par.

He heads into the final round well up the leaderboard at 6-over-par 222.

He would be closer to the lead if he didn't have to play the 18th hole this week. Goosen bogeyed the hole Saturday to go with the bogey and double bogey he made the first two rounds.

"This hole is costing me a little bit," he said. "Disappointing finish. It would have been nice to get a couple in the last two holes, and then I would have been right back in it."

Goosen's game would seem tailored for the current set-up at Augusta National.

His unflappable demeanor has allowed him to survive tough course conditions in two U.S. Open wins, at Southern Hills in 2001 and at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.

He's also done well at the Masters, with a runner-up finish in 2002 and ties for third the past two years. On Saturday, Goosen said the greens on the front nine were a little bit softer and more receptive to approach shots, allowing him to make three of his five birdies.

He also said the pin placements were a little more accessible, but doesn't expect them to be that way today.

"I think today they sort of eased off the pin placings, I think, considering conditions," he said, "I think (Sunday) we'll find a few tougher ones out there. But today they were quite generous on a few of the holes today."

Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com.

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