Many factors at play in Masters final day
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The hour or two of post-storm golf that the leaders squeezed in at the Masters Tournament on Saturday evening looked nothing like the first two days. The greens, softened by the afternoon deluge, proved as welcoming as a mother's hug. The first six golfers on the leaderboard when darkness suspended play each made at least two birdies in their abbreviated rounds, and only one of them played more than six holes.
Fortunately for those chasing him, leader Chad Campbell followed his birdie-birdie start with a bogey-bogey finish. Campbell, at 6 under through four holes, leads Tim Clark and Rocco Mediate by one stroke.
"Short-game shots are so much easier when the ball is grabbing and holding," said Woods, who played the front nine in 34. "Before it was skidding and repelling."
So when play resumes Sunday morning at 7:45 a.m., will the Masters continue to impersonate the FBR Open? Clark and Woods both talked about how they will have to make birdies in order to keep up. But there are a few things to consider.
First of all, the Augusta National Golf Club greens have a motorized drainage system beneath them.
"Augusta National's greens are never slow but were just a little sticky in spots," said Mediate, who, at 5 under through four holes, pulled within one stroke of Campbell. "Sub-Air [the drainage system] tonight will take all of that moisture out of there. It will still be a little softer but it won't be mushy."
Second, the course is playing longer. With the added length, two-time champion Ben Crenshaw, who stood tied for 10th through two rounds at 1 under, reverted to his form of the last few years. Crenshaw played eight holes in 5 over.
Third, there will be the grind of playing anywhere from 27 (Woods) to 32 (Campbell and Mediate) holes.
"It's going to be tough walking around that many times, but when you're in contention, you don't really think about that," Campbell said. "It's not like we have to run. That might be a different story. But mentally, it's tough. This is a very demanding golf course and on the greens you have stay very patient and take your chances when you get them."
Fourth, there will be the pressure of Masters Sunday. Twenty-two players remain within six shots of Campbell. Nine of them have won major championships.
"I have to do something real special the next  holes to win this golf tournament," Mediate said, "whereas some of the bigger guns have to play pretty much a nice, solid round of golf. I have to go above that. They have been there many more times. Phil is right there. He's close. Tiger is always close. As long as he's upright, he's close. So if those guys go out and play a good round of golf, it's going to be tough to beat them, even though I'm a few ahead of them."
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Dates: June 26-July 9
Defending champions: Venus Williams, Roger Federer
Time difference: Great Britain is 5 hours ahead of ET
• Day 13: Federer wins men's title
• Garber: Federer maintains supremecy
• Sheppard: Nadal No. 2, and closing, on grass
• Notebook: Gilbert deal to coach Murray not official ... yet
• Jensen: Federer learned from French Open
• Day 12: Mauresmo wins women's title
• Garber:Mauresmo keeps nerves in check
• Sheppard: Bryans complete career Grand Slam
• Shriver, Fernandez: Mauresmo held up when it mattered
• Men's final preview: Nadal won't be an easy out
• Day 10: Women's semis | Nadal reaches semifinals
• Garber: Mauresmo breaks through
• Garber: Nadal's transition to grass
• Shriver: Two Grand Slam finals in one
• Navratilova loses final Wimbledon match
• Paul Goldstein blog
• Day 9: Men's quarterfinals
• Garber: Baghdatis awaits Nadal-Nieminen winner
• Garber: Navratilova wants one more title
• Sheppard: Bjorkman wins five-set marathon
• Notebook: Women's semifinal previews
• Nestor-Knowles win longest Grand Slam doubles match in history
• Day 8: Women's quarterfinals
• Garber: Belgians meet for third time in '06
• Garber: Mauresmo at home in Wimbledon
• Hawkins: Sharapova not fazed by streaker, Dementieva
• Notebook: Quarterfinal previews