- Associated Press - Saturday, April 7, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Ambling down the first fairway, leading the Masters at 52 years young, Freddie Couples heard the cheers and turned to the fans. “However long it lasts,” he said.

At almost the same time, Tiger Woods was wrapping up a day that felt like it would never end.

Couples opened his day with a pair of bogeys to drop three shots out of the lead on a sunny Saturday at Augusta National, while Jason Dufner made birdie on No. 2 to take sole possession of the lead at 6 under.

That was one shot in front of Lee Westwood and two clear of Louis Oosthuizen and Matt Kuchar, all early in their rounds.

Rory McIlroy began the day a shot out of the lead but opened with a double bogey, teeing off right, punching out, chipping past the green, then needing three more to get down. He was 2 under through four, tied with Phil Mickelson, who made par on his first seven holes.

Sergio Garcia made three bogeys over his first four holes and dropped to 1 under.

Couples, playing on the 20th anniversary of his crowd-pleasing win here, went bogey-bogey and was tied for seventh, only a few minutes after starting the day with the lead and striping his first shot down the middle of the fairway, with fans yelling “Go Freddie” as he made his way to the ball.

Hours earlier, Woods began his round hoping to make up at least some part of an eight-shot deficit. After an even-par round in which he couldn’t control his swing and chunked his driver and took a divot out of the 13th tee box, he was exactly where he started _ 3-over par and needing the leaders to move backward over the remainder of the day.

“I was so close to putting it together today,” Woods said.

For the second straight day, and only the fourth time in his career at the Masters, he played all four par-5s without making an eagle or birdie. He is 1-under on the par 5s for the tournament _ a statistic everyone knows gets you nowhere at Augusta National.

Another inauspicious number: Woods has hit 25 of 42 fairways through three rounds _ seventh worst in the 63-man field. When he missed badly on No. 13, he drove the club into the ground, a scene that became all too familiar during his round Friday.

Afterward, he apologized for the latest show of temper.

“Am I conscious of it? No,” Woods said. “Certainly, I’m frustrated at times. I apologize if I offend anybody by that but I’ve hit some bad shots. It’s certainly frustrating at times not to hit the ball where you need to hit it.”

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