Three rounds of the Masters are in the book and we have a surprise invitee standing alone at the top of the leaderboard. 34 year old Peter Hanson of Sweden currently sits alone at 9 under par through 54 holes after a shooting 7 under par 65 today. His playing partner for the first two rounds of the tournament will once again be paired up with him tomorrow, as Phil “Lefty” Mickelson (one of the most likable guys in the sport of golf) currently resides one stroke back after shooting a 66 on this Masters Saturday. Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa is in third at 7 under for the week, followed by a pair of Americans, Bubba Watson at 6 under and Matt Kuchar at 5 under so far rounding out the top five. Irish native Padraig Harrington, American Hunter Mahan, the Swedish Henrik Stenson, and the Englishman Lee Westwood are all tied for 6th place in the tournament through three rounds and within striking distance, only 5 strokes off the lead.
Who is this leader, Peter Hanson? To be honest he is not one of the household names in the sport of golf, even though he has made almost a million dollars to this point in his PGA Tour career. The winners share for this Masters tournament is $1,305,000 so he has a chance to double his earnings on this tour in just this one major tournament. He is player that is having a very good season so far, with a 5th place finish at the Accenture Match Play Championship, a fourth place finish at the Cadillac Championship, and a victory in the unofficial Tavistock Cup a couple weeks ago. On March 27th of this year it was announced that Hanson has accepted an invitation to join the PGA Tour for the remainder of the 2012 season with special temporary membership status, which for those that don’t know is a huge step in a professional golfer’s career. He earned that temporary membership by earning $644,765 through his three starts on the PGA Tour this season. If his earnings and official prize money equals or exceeds 125th place on the 2012 PGA Tour money list he will earn his PGA Tour card and be an official member for the 2013 season, so needless to say a great round tomorrow is very important to him professionally.
Phil Mickelson also has a ton to play for. A win tomorrow would be his fourth at the Masters, tying him with Tiger Woods. When asked what winning a fourth green jacket would mean to him, Phil answered “A lot” and then when pressed on the question he said “it would mean an awful lot”. And really what else is there to say, winning the biggest tournament in golf speaks for itself, and to tie Tiger would make it that much sweeter for Phil who manages to fly under the radar many weekends despite being a Hall of Fame golfer with 40 career victories to his name.
Tomorrow evening a green jacket will be presented to one lucky golfer by 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel in one of the fine traditions that make the Masters one of the best sporting events in the world. Will it be the Hanson, Mickelson, or maybe another golfer who makes a late surge up the leaderboard on Sunday? No matter who wins it is sure to be an exciting afternoon out on one of the most famous golf courses in the world and I can’t wait to see the drama unfold.