- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson provided an enticing prelim to the main event at the Masters, playing together in the final round of a major for only the third time.

Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera went into Sunday tied for the lead at 11-under 205, seven strokes ahead of a group including Woods and Mickelson.

This was the fourth straight round played in warm, sunny conditions. The course could be there for the taking, especially with the greens still a bit soft after severe overnight storms swept through Georgia following the second round.

Cabrera and Perry already had put up the lowest 54-hole score in seven years.

Teeing off about an hour ahead of the leaders, the world’s first- and second-ranked players drew one of the biggest galleries at Augusta National, both hoping to win a major for the first time coming from behind on the final round.

Mickelson was the first to arrive at the No. 1 tee. Woods strolled up next, the two rivals greeting each other with a firm handshake and a bit of a staredown.

Both players badly hooked their opening tee shots but still managed to escape with pars. Woods’ ball actually ended up between the eighth and ninth fairways, ricocheting off a pine tree. Lefty wound up in the trees right of the fairway.

Mickelson somehow reached the green with his second shot, badly misread a birdie putt and had to make a testy 3-footer to save par. Woods’ blocked his second shot, winding up short and right of the green, but a deft touch with the wedge left him a tap-in to stay at 4 under.

The early fireworks were provided by Steve Flesch, who started the day eight strokes back and needing the greatest final-round comeback in Masters history to win the green jacket.

The left-hander holed out from the fairway for an eagle at No. 2, then rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the third hole, the shortest of the par-4s, to quickly slice three strokes off his deficit.

Cabrera and Perry were being chased by Chad Campbell, who led after an opening-round 65 and was still tied for the lead after 36 holes. The soft-spoken Texan made a double bogey at No. 16 on Saturday, leaving him two strokes back heading to the final round.

Jim Furyk was at 208, followed by Steve Stricker at 209. The group at 210 included Shingo Katayama, Todd Hamilton and Rory Sabbatini.

Perry was trying to win his first major title at age 48, coming off the high of helping he U.S. win the Ryder Cup in his home state last fall. The Kentuckian also could become the oldest major champion in golf history, about four months older than Julius Boros when he captured the 1968 PGA Championship.

Cabrera was trying to win his second major title, having bested Woods and Furyk at the 2007 U.S. Open. A win by the Argentine would help make up for an infamous mistake by countryman Roberto De Vicenzo, who signed for a wrong score at the 1968 Masters, costing him a chance to go to a playoff with Bob Goalby.

Woods and Mickelson were playing together in the final round at Augusta for the second time. In 2001, Woods went to Sunday with a one-stroke lead over Lefty and wrapped up an unprecedented fourth straight major title _ the Tiger Slam _ with a 68. Mickelson shot 70 and settled for third, three strokes behind.

Their other final-round pairing in a major came at the 1997 PGA Championship, where both closed with 75 in a tournament won by Davis Love III.

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