What the…PHIL! Those were my first words when I checked the leaderboard yesterday afternoon. Apparently, Phil is rounding into Masters form just as planned in Houston. He caught on fire and shot a nine-under 63 to tie the course record at Redstone. Even if he has a so-so day in the final round, that’s gotta give him an extra confidence boost heading into Augusta…tomorrow.
Phil holed a 51-foot chip on No. 6 to save par. How good was the shot? So good that playing partner Lee Westwood’s caddie, Billy Foster, got down on his knees and bowed to Phil.
We’ve actually got a pretty good final-round leaderboard at the Shell. Phil took the lead after his spectacular 63, but Scott Verplank, Aaron Baddeley, Anthony Kim, Padraig Harrington and Hunter Mahan are all in striking distance.
Meanwhile, at the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Yani Tseng shot 66 in the third round to take a two-shot lead over Stacy Lewis. Yani looks to defend her championship today, and collect her fourth major and fifth win of 2011. Morgan Pressel is four shots back and Michelle Wie is six back — both probably can’t make up that many strokes unless Yani has an epic collapse, which isn’t likely.
Her mental game has improved tremendously over the past year. At the Women’s British Open she lead wire-to-wire, which meant a lot to her since in her other victories, she’d always come from behind because there was less pressure. Her win at the British got her to the next level mentally and gave her the confidence that she knew how to close.
Read more about Yani’s road to No. 1 in this Sports Illustrated article (which, by the way, was ghostwritten by yours truly).
Now excuse me while I return to nursing my post b-day hangover and get ready to leave for Augusta tomorrow.
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)