AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Yesterday, after spending a good bit of the day hunkered down and combing through the Masters record book, I unearthed some amazing numbers about how players finished relative to their position after 36 holes at Augusta National.
So, on a gloomy Saturday morning, we went even deeper. However you slice it, if Tiger Woods manages to win after starting the third round in 13th place, he'll be making some major history.
If anybody can do it, Woods is the most qualified, but for perspective, consider these irrefutable facts culled from the records at the lone major championship course that is used every year, which clearly adds validity to the trend:
* Since 1970, only four players who began the third round outside the top 10 have won at Augusta (Gary Player in 1974 and '78, Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, Bernhard Langer in 1986 and Jack Nicklaus in 1986).
Yikes. To some degree, the ever-increasing difficulty of the course has clearly cut down on the fireworks and heroics, because all five of the aforementioned instances were more than two decades ago.
* In that same span, 31 of 38 winners stood in fifth place or better after 36 holes.
* Looking forward to the situation heading into Sunday, 35 of the 38 winners since 1970 were in fifth place or better after 54 holes.
In other words, Woods needs to make a move and probably needs some help from above if he is to give himself a realistic chance on Sunday. For whatever it's worth, by 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, rain had already begun to fall, which might or might not make his task easier.