An enthralling day three at the US Masters on Saturday as conditions at the Augusta course reverted to type. Greens firmed up and some players were found out while others, who often excel on fast greens, came to the fore. There were captivating performances from the two leaders, Peter Hanson and Phil Mickelson, while Padraig Harrington, just as he did in round one at the Honda Classic a few weeks back, got the ball rolling terrifically, and played the final six holes in a magnificent five under par to get himself into contention.
I mentioned in my tournament preview that fast conditions around the green surfaces may not suit the likes of McIlroy and Westwood and they proved too much for the former as he missed numerous short putts on his way to a round of 77, memories of his final day's play at Augusta last year. Westwood is still hanging around despite showing his weakness with the flat stick when missing a one foot putt mid round.
As mentioned, it was Peter Hanson and Phil Mickelson who set the Augusta National course alight on day three. Mickelson parred each of the first nine holes before kicking into gear and going phenomenally low on the back nine, making it -12 through his last 40 holes in tough conditions.
The momentum is with big Phil. He will have the crowd right behind him and having had the vital experience of final day Augusta, three green jackets and arguably most importantly of all, vast knowledge of the final round pin positions, he is now the man to beat and can be backed at 2.50 with Unibet.
Peter Hanson was the other man on fire on day three. I mentioned after day one that the Swede is one of the most underrated players in world golf and a price then of 30.0 suggested that. He's battled superbly and bounced back after any mistakes he's made, culminating in the low round of the tournament so far - a fabulous 65. Questions remain about how Peter will handle the pressure of Augusta Sunday but at 5.0 for the win, with the way he's playing this week and with his new found confidence, I wouldn't put anyone off that.
The enigmatic Bubba Watson, despite admitting not really wanting to be at Augusta this week due to family reasons, remains firmly in contention and is surely the danger man. Lurking just three shots back, Bubba showed great resilience, a key attribute for Augusta, coming from +2 early in his round to hit back with three birdies in his last six and get it to -6 for the tournament. Bubba is capable of going low around any course and looks the best value at 9.0 for the win.
Louis Oosthuizen is no stranger to high pressure situations having slept on the third round lead at the British Open in 2010 and played his way to the title with ease on the Sunday. Possibly inspired by his good friend and compatriot Charl Schwartzel's US Masters win last year, Oosthuizen looks menacing at only two shots back. Louis can be backed with Unibet at 6.5 to be wearing this year's green jacket come Sunday night.
Should the market leaders fall, the best of the rest are Kuchar (20.0) at -5 and Westwood (20.0), Harrington (30.0), Stenson (40.0) and two time winner already this season, Hunter Mahan (20.0) all at -4. With the volatility of the US Masters leaderboard, all these guys are still firmly in contention and those who like their value betting and / or a bit of an interest bet could do worse than backing the players four and five shots back at these prices.